In his first interview since a jury awarded him $140 million in compensatory and punitive damages in an invasion of privacy lawsuit against Gawker Media, wrestling legend Hulk Hogan said he was overwhelmed by the verdict.
The wrestler spoke to ABC News’ Linzie Janis in an exclusive interview.
“[Gawker] was hoping that, financially, I wouldn't be able to stay in the game with them, and I'd quit or tap out or something,” the wrestler told Janis. “I felt like I had this monster on my shoulders no matter where I went.”
Hogan said he worried about what people – including his children – were thinking of him.
He sobbed in the courtroom when the verdict was read, telling Janis he reacted with a “crazy involuntary snort" that he tried to control.
“And as I tried to not snort again, just...water just came pouring out of my eyes. I just started shaking. I couldn't hear anything except the judge going, ‘yes’ to that or ‘yes’ to this or ‘yes’ for damages. I don't remember what they said. But it was just so overwhelming when I knew that we had won and people believed me. It was just -- gosh, it was a moment. It was a moment.”
Watch the full interview on "Good Morning America" Wednesday at 7 a.m. ET.
Hogan was awarded a $115 million verdict in his case against Gawker after the jury ruled unanimously in his favor Friday. The jury said $55 million was for economic damages and $60 million for emotional distress.
Hogan was awarded an additional $25 million in punitive damages on Monday. According to The Associated Press, that judgment involves Gawker Media paying Hogan $15 million, Gawker founder Nick Denton paying $10 million, and the website's former editor-in-chief, A.J. Daulerio, paying $100,000.
"We are extremely happy with the verdict and Mr. Bollea feels vindicated. Our victory will also deter others from victimizing innocent people," Hogan's lawyers said in a statement on Monday. "This verdict now requires those organizations to respect privacy and if not pay the price for failing to do so."
In the wake of the verdict, Hogan tweeted about his gratitude:
Hogan had sued Gawker for $100 million after the site published a portion of a sex tape with the former wrestler and his former friend's then-wife in 2012.
The taping occurred before Hogan and his ex-wife Linda divorced in 2009. Hogan -- whose real name is Terry Bollea -- sued for invasion of privacy and much of his testimony centered on the difference between his fictional character and Bollea, the private citizen. He said that his "whole world went upside down" when the tape was released.
Both he and Heather Cole, the woman in the tape, said that they did not know they were being filmed at the time. Cole also testified that she didn't know who leaked the video to Gawker.
Gawker's lawyer, Michael Barry, alleged in court that Hogan filed his lawsuit in an effort to get “lots and lots of money," adding that Denton wanted “the public to have the simple, unvarnished truth … about public figures.”
Denton and Daulerio both testified during the trial.
Denton said in a statement: “Given key evidence and the most important witness were both improperly withheld from this jury, we all knew the appeals court will need to resolve the case. I want to thank our lawyers for their outstanding work and am confident that we would have prevailed at trial if we had been allowed to present the full case to the jury. That’s why we feel very positive about the appeal that we have already begun preparing, as we expect to win this case ultimately.”