The wrestler said publication of his romp with the wife of his then-best friend was deeply embarrassing both personally and professionally
Hulk Hogan was "completely humiliated" after a secretly-recorded sex tape was published on a gossip website, a court heard on Monday.
The wrestling star is seeking $100million (£70million) in damages from Gawker, who leaked the footage of his romp with the wife of his then-best friend , radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge.
The court case will test celebrity privacy rights and freedom of the press in the digital age.
Hogan, 62, said the publication of the one-minute, 41-second clip of his consensual sex with Heather Clem deeply affected his personal and professional life.
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Embarrassing: Hogan said the tape damaged him personally and professionally
"I was completely humiliated," he said. "It was even embarrassing as my character. Hulk Hogan was embarrassed."
Read more : Hulk Hogan feeling 'pretty good' as he fights in court over sex tape as wrestler seeks $100 million
Addressed in court by his legal name, Terry Bollea, the wrestler wore a signature bandana with a black suit and a cross necklace.
He referred to his Hulk Hogan character as "completely opposite" to his true personality, which he described as soft-spoken and non-argumentative.
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Romp: Heather Clem with ex-husband Radio talk show host Bubba the Love Sponge
Lawyers for the longtime WWE champion and reality TV star say he had a right to expect privacy in a private bedroom and the video was filmed without his knowledge.
Gawker's post was motivated by power and brand promotion, an attorney for the wrestler told jurors during opening statements.
Gawker attorneys, however, questioned what the wrestler knew about cameras in his friend's house.
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Sex tape: Hulk Hogan said the leak was "completely humiliating"
Gawker sees its 2012 post as protected speech under the First Amendment of the US Constitution, and contends it was reporting on a celebrity who publicly discussed his sex life.
Gawker's founder, Nick Denton, sat in the front row on the first day of a civil trial in St. Petersburg, Florida, in the county where Hogan lives, along with a former editor involved, A.J. Daulerio.
"Gawker believes this kind of reporting is important," an attorney for the company, Mike Berry told jurors, explaining that celebrity sex tapes are among the "uncomfortable" topics important to the outlet, known for gossip and media reporting.
Hearing: Hogan takes to the stand for the first day of evidence
A loss could put Gawker out of business, though the website will appeal an unfavorable verdict, another of its attorneys said.
The wrestler said the incident occurred at a low-point as his marriage was ending, in a home where he had let down his guard.
Both sides claimed success after the trial's opening.
Lawyers for the wrestler highlighted his testimony about suffering, and Gawker pointed out the disparities in what he said in character as opposed to his true persona.
Hogan is expected to continue to give evidence on Tuesday.