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Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker: Jury selection as told in tweets

Legendary wrestler and sports icon Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, posed for a patriotic portrait at his restaurant and bar Hogan's Beach in Tampa in 2014. [Luis Santana | Times]
Legendary wrestler and sports icon Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, posed for a patriotic portrait at his restaurant and bar Hogan's Beach in Tampa in 2014. [Luis Santana | Times]
Published Mar. 3, 2016

Sympathizers, haters and the generally indifferent filed into a small St. Petersburg courtroom by the hundreds this week, called upon in the name of civic duty to talk about Hulk Hogan's sex tape.

If that isn't enough to give you an idea of the kinds of questions potential jurors in Hogan's $100 million civil case against the gossip site Gawker were asked — and the kinds of answers they offered back — we'll add a few more juicy details.

LIVE BLOG: Follow the latest from the Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker case

The sex tape, all one-minute and 41-seconds of it, showed the former professional wrestler having sex with his ex-best friend's then-wife in 2006. That ex-best friend is Tampa radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, and he was the one behind the camera. Apparently, the Hulk had no idea he was being filmed.

And to top it all off, the tape was leaked in 2012 to a reporter at Gawker, which then posted the excerpt online with an unflattering play-by-play of Hulk Hogan's, ahem, performance.

They titled it, "Even for a Minute, Watching Hulk Hogan Have Sex in a Canopy Bed Is Not Safe for Work but Watch It Anyway."

Spoiler alert: all but nine seconds of the video is mostly uncomfortable pillow talk.

But it was enough to prompt the Hulk, real name Terry Bollea, file a lawsuit against both Clem and Gawker for violating his privacy. Bollea settled out of court with Clem, but he couldn't do the same with Gawker.

After years of legal back and forth, jury selection for this very bizarre — and very Florida — trial began this week.

Hundreds of locals from the city once known as God's Waiting Room were summoned to court, and some had to fill out a 14-page questionnaire that included inquiries about how much they knew of the relevant players.

On Wednesday, a smaller pool of potential jurors were asked to return and face even more questions.

On both days, their answers did not disappoint, demonstrating just how tough choosing a jury could be for attorneys on both sides.

The Hulk himself set the tone for the legal cage match, when he showed up to court dressed to impress.

For the record, @HulkHogan is wearing his dress bandana today.

Hogan enters the courtroom. Lots of murmurs and giggles from the jury. Seems like half the room just figured out why they're here.

It didn't take long for some to begin their quest to get the heck outta there.

Judge presents Gawker's side of the case, that video of Hogan was "a matter of legitimate public concern." Several jurors scoff audibly.

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There was the guy who couldn't even make it through the rules without trying to duck and cover.

Another 250 potential jurors have been summoned this afternoon. Barely into the instructions and one guy just tried to walk out. #hulkvsgawk

"Which way is out?" a juror asked a sheriff deputy. "I don't want to be part of this." #hulkvsgawk

Others just openly admitted they would be unable to place their civic duty above binge-watching House of Cards on Netflix.

Judge warns jurors against going online. Says several, when asked if they could stay off the Internet, simply said "no." #hulkvsgawk

This "opinionated" lady took the whole oath thing pretty seriously.

Female juror says she's heard negative things about Hogan. "Sex with a friend's wife, although consensual, seems a bit slimy" #hulkvsgawk

"He seems to enjoy the circus atmosphere that follows him," says same female juror. "I'm very opinionated." #hulkvsgawk

"Very opinionated" female juror is excused. Everyone, including her, agreed she couldn't be impartial. #hulkvsgawk

Others just had no idea what Gawker is.

Typical exchange so far:Do you know anything about Gawker? "Never heard of them"Don't know them from Adam?"No" #hulkvsgawk

"I don't follow a lot of mainstream media," says the first male juror of the day. "I'm not a mainstream media kind of person." #hulkvsgawk

Juror: "I don't know anything about Gawker. Never seen it. The name to me would imply a site that shows pornographic material." #hulkvsgawk

There were those who had to admit they'd already watched the sex tape — willingly. (Selected jurors will be required to).

A male juror who works at a school in Tampa says he's seen parts of the sex tape. On Gawker? "No, on porn sites." #hulkvsgawk #honesty

Porn-watching, Bubba-the-Love-Sponge-listening juror is excused. Surprising no one. #hulkvsgawk

Male juror says he watched an edit of sex tape.Where?"I couldn't tell you the website. Someone was like check this out." #hulkvsgawk

One juror talked about a touching moment he once shared with the Hulkster.

Juror says she saw Hogan on a flight to NY. He was sitting in first class. "I just patted him on the shoulder and walked on by." #hulkvsgawk

When the topic of Bollea's use of the "n" word came up, several jurors offered their unfiltered thoughts.

"If I could talk about that word for a moment, it's a double-edged sword," says white, female juror of the n-word. #hulkvsgawk

"A certain race can say it but another race cannot. It's just not right that that happens," she says. #hulkvsgawk

Young black juror on Hogan's racist comments: "It threw me off a little bit because I grew up watching him as a performer." #hulkvsgawk

This is the first juror who is disturbed by Hogan's remarks. "I know the plaintiff has used a word that I find abhorrent." #hulkvsgawk

Some felt solidarity with the former professional wrestler.

Female juror says she's more sympathetic to Hogan bc someone posted party pics of her on Facebook without her consent. #hulkvsgawk

One male juror wrote on his questionnaire: "I'm on Terry Bollea's side" #hulkvsgawk

Same juror who wrote down "I'm on Terry Bollea's side," also wrote, "I like Hulk Hogan" #hulkvsgawk

Others just had no patience.

Juror who says she's a devout Christian says she considers Hogan a "sinner." #hulkvsgawk

Juror says the fact that the sex was extramarital bothers her.What if the husband approved?That's even worse, she says. #hulkvsgawk

Male juror, daily newspaper reader: "The only impression I have is that all parties involved have some serious moral issues." #hulkvsgawk

And somehow, even the sport of professional wrestling took a blow.

Attorney: Do you follow wrestling?Juror: "Yeah, when it was real back in the day." #hulkvsgawk

Contact Katie Mettler at kmettler@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3446. Follow @kemettler.