Professional wrestler Hulk Hogan has been fired by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) following reports from the National Enquirer, Radar Online and TMZ of a tape in which Hogan repeatedly used the n-word and described himself as a "racist."
"WWE terminated its contract with Terry Bollea (aka Hulk Hogan)," said WWE in a statement to the National Enquirer today. "WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide."
The WWE has not responded to questions about its decision, including whether it was specifically related to the contents of the tape.
Last night, WWE erased Hogan from its website completely, taking down his biography page — which now reads, "You are not authorized to access this page" — and removing him from the WWE Hall of Fame, which he was inducted into in 2005. In addition, merchandise featuring Hogan is no longer available in the WWE Shop. This is not an unprecedented action: The WWE did the same thing with Chris Benoit after it was discovered in June 2007 that he had murdered his wife and 7-year-old son before hanging himself.
Citing multiple sources, the National Enquirer and Radar Online published excerpts from what they described as an "unauthorized sex tape" featuring Hogan and Heather Clem, the wife of radio talk show host Bubba the Love Sponge. Gawker posted a clip from a sex tape with Hogan and Clem in 2012, leading to a lawsuit from Hogan against Gawker Media that is still unresolved.
The National Enquirer and Radar Online reportedly obtained the quotes from transcripts under seal in the Florida court where a jury trial in the Hogan v. Gawker case was set to begin earlier this month, but was recently delayed indefinitely.
In the quotes from the tape, Hogan complained about his daughter, Brooke Hogan, and the African-American man she was dating. Hulk Hogan used the n-word to describe the man, and said, "I am a racist, to a point."
Two different versions of Hulk Hogan appeared as playable characters in 2K Sports' WWE 2K15 last year — a game that was also available in a $99.99 "Hulkamania Edition" — and in many previous wrestling video games. 2K Sports has not yet officially announced the full roster for WWE 2K16, but a recent leak listed Hogan as a playable character. WWE 2K15's developers repeatedly deleted wrestlers created as Chris Benoit, with a community manager referring to them as "inappropriate content."
We've reached out to 2K Sports for comment on how this news will affect existing and future WWE 2K games. We've also contacted Hogan's attorney and WWE for comment, and will update this article with any information we receive. Hogan posted this cryptic tweet last night:
In the storm I release control,God and his Universe will sail me where he wants me to be,one love. HH— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) July 24, 2015
Update: Hogan apologized for his remarks in a statement given exclusively to People magazine.
"Eight years ago I used offensive language during a conversation," said Hogan. "It was unacceptable for me to have used that offensive language; there is no excuse for it; and I apologize for having done it."
"This is not who I am. I believe very strongly that every person in the world is important and should not be treated differently based on race, gender, orientation, religious beliefs or otherwise," Hogan continued. "I am disappointed with myself that I used language that is offensive and inconsistent with my own beliefs."
An attorney for Hogan contradicted the WWE's account, telling People that Hogan resigned from WWE "because he didn't want to put them or his family through this."
Update 2: Hogan will not appear in WWE 2K16, a 2K Sports representative told Polygon this afternoon.
"We are highly respectful of the way that our partners choose to run their business and manage our partnerships accordingly," the spokesperson said. "We can confirm that Hulk Hogan will not appear in WWE 2K16."
Asked about whether 2K Sports plans to remove Hogan from any previous WWE video games, the representative called it a "fair question," but said 2K Sports has "no other comments at this time."