By Kathleen Joyce, ,
Published July 17, 2018
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) reinstated legendary wrestler Hulk Hogan to its Hall of Fame, three years after kicking him out when a sex tape emerged of him using racial slurs.
The company made the announcement on Sunday, saying Hogan deserved a second chance.
"This second chance follows Hogan's numerous public apologies and volunteering to work with young people, where he is helping them learn from his mistake," the organization wrote.
Hogan, 64, celebrated the announcement on Twitter saying: “I’ve been praying for this day and I finally feel like I made it back home. Only Love 4 the #WWEUNIVERSE brother.”
Hogan’s daughter, Brooke Hogan, also tweeted celebrating the announcement.
“So proud of the true transformation my father has made spiritually & as a human. None of us are perfect, but we can unlearn old things & learn new ways. Everyone’s evolution is unique to them & Gods timing. Thanks to the fans for the endless love. Round 2 here we come,” she wrote.
Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, apologized in 2015 for using “offensive language” in a conversation many years before that. On the recording, he was caught talking about his daughter sleeping with a black man and used the “N” word.
"It was unacceptable for me to have used that offensive language; there is no excuse for it; and I apologize for having done it," Hogan said at the time.
WWE removed all references of Hogan from its website following the scandal and terminated his contract in 2015, BBC reported.
The comments came to light in a joint report from RadarOnline.com and The National Enquirer, which said Hogan had used racial slurs in a conversation caught on a sex video that was the subject of an invasion of privacy lawsuit.
In 2016, a Florida jury awarded $140 million to Hogan in a privacy case revolving around the sex tape, which was posted on Gawker.com. The site posted a video of Hogan having sex with a friend's wife and argued that its footage was newsworthy and protected by the First Amendment.
Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel bankrolled Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker, raising concerns about the power of the wealthy against the media. Only after Hogan won the jury verdict did Thiel's role come to light.
Gawker settled with Hulk Hogan for $31 million, ending a years-long fight that led to the media company's bankruptcy, the shutdown of Gawker.com and the sale of Gawker's other sites to Spanish-language broadcaster Univision.
Hogan is one of the most recognizable stars of the WWE. He was the main draw for the first WrestleMania in 1985 and has faced other legendary wrestlers including Andre the Giant, Randy Savage and The Rock. He has won six WWE championships and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 by Sylvester Stallone.
Hogan also became a reality television star outside the wrestling world following his hit VH1 reality series “Hogan Knows Best” which followed the wrestler and his family.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.