The publication of his sex tape not only shook Hulk Hogan. He said it also left a mark on the man behind the world famous wrestling character.
"I was embarrassed by what it did to me as a person, but it was even embarrassing as a character," Hogan said Monday in a St. Petersburg, Florida courtroom. "Hulk Hogan was embarrassed."
Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, is suing Gawker Media for $100 million, claiming invasion of privacy over the site's publication of a portion of the salacious footage in 2012.
Gawker contends that the post containing the sex footage is protected by the First Amendment because Hogan has made his sex life a matter of public interest. Lawyers for the company also note the sex tape itself had already been covered by other media outlets.
Gawker founder Nick Denton and former editor A.J. Daulerio, who posted the video along with a commentary, are defendants in the suit along with Gawker Media.
During the first day of the trial, Hogan's legal team tried to show the jury the man beneath the bandana.
"Terry Bollea's a normal person. Wrestling is my job. It's what Terry Bollea does for a living," Hogan said during his testimony.
"I don't argue. I'm not loud. Pretty soft spoken to a fault," he said. "Don't know how really to say no, even though I'm learning how to say no to my kids."
When he discovered there was a one minute and 40 second sex tape of him and that it had gone public, Hogan said he felt "completely humiliated."
And when he learned that his best friend, radio host Bubba "the Love Sponge" Clem, could be heard on the full sex tape bragging that he could collect a fortune from the footage, Hogan said he was "violently shaking."
Hogan, 62, was dressed all in black, including a crucifix on a chain and his signature bandana, when he took the stand on Monday.
He said there had been a running joke for about two years with Clem about Hogan having sex with Clem's wife.
When Hogan's wife filed for divorce, he said he called Clem and was "crying like a baby." Clem told him to come over to the house and when he arrived, Hogan said Heather Clem took him by the hand and led him to the bedroom. Bubba Clem handed him a condom, he testified.
The nine jurors, which includes three alternates, were fixated on Hogan throughout the direct questioning. Six out of the nine jurors are women.
During cross examination, Gawker attorney Michael Sullivan seized on a number of inconsistent statements Hogan has made about the scandal.
Sullivan wondered why -- if Hogan indeed had no idea that he was being taped -- the plaintiff could be heard asking Clem about cameras on the tape.
"Just being there, knowing I shouldn't be there, everything felt weird. It was just my gut feeling. It came out," Hogan replied.
Sullivan presented media interviews in which Hogan said he watched the video published by Gawker, contradicting claims made in depositions that he never saw the clip.
Hogan said that was all part of an act.
"That statement is not truthful," Hogan said. "I was probably in the Hulk Hogan mode, trying to get through the day."
"It gives you artistic liberty when you're Hulk Hogan to be a character," he added.
Gawker president and general counsel Heather Dietrick said outside the courtroom she found it "interesting that plaintiff today acknowledged that he doesn't always tell the truth about things." There are pieces of his testimony that "don't line up with what he's said at other times," she said.
"It speaks to his credibility, and how you're not able to tell when he's playing a character, when he's not playing a character," Dietrick said.
Hogan's personal attorney David Houston, who will testify in the trial, said the first day went "exceptionally well."
"We look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate the actions of the defendants resulted in substantial harm to Mr. Bollea and as such they most certainly should be held accountable," Houston said. "Every day it will become more and more clear this is not and has never been a case where the utilization of the First Amendment as a defense if either appropriate or warranted."