You can call Joe Francis a "douche," but don't call him a rapist.
The "Girls Gone Wild" founder is vowing to sue Gawker.com for $10 million after the Web site labeled Francis "a rapist" while crowning him the winner of its "Douche of the Decade" poll. Francis received 32 percent of the nearly 9,000 votes cast.
"You messed with the wrong guy. No one makes up lies about me and gets away with it," Francis e-mailed Gawker founder Nick Denton. "I lost a $10 million deal as a direct result of you calling me 'a rapist.' You will be paying me every dime of that back and more! Are you mentally retarded? Do your research first. I am coming after you harder than I ever went after anyone. I am going to wipe you off the grid!!!! YOU ARE DONE! I will take everything you have. You, Nick Denton, are truly the douche of the decade. Merry Xmas IDIOT!!!
Francis attached a shirtless photograph of himself, adding, "I sent you an updated picture of how I look now . . . because you seem to be quite sexually obsessed with me."
Francis told Page Six that the Gawker item caused him to lose a $10 million international distribution deal. "They used Wikipedia as their source. It's pathetic," he said. Francis has never been accused of rape, although in 2006, an 18-year-old girl told the Los Angeles Times how she was pressured into having sex with him on the back of the "Girls Gone Wild" bus.
Gawker managing editor Gabriel Snyder told us, "We really wanted to retire the word 'douche' by crowning Joe Francis as its apotheosis, but it looks like he's determined to remain the standard-bearer." Snyder said Gawker had not been served with any papers by Francis and that the site has no plans to take down its original story.