Florida of the day: What happened to “Bubba the Love Sponge”?

Bubba the Love Sponge at Bubba’s Beach Club in Ybor City, 1996

I’m a relatively recent transplant to Tampa Bay (I’ll have been here five years next March), but even I am aware of the existence of Tampa’s most infamous radio show host, the shock jock known as “Bubba the Love Sponge”. It’s not because of the fame he gained through his meteoric rise on terrestrial radio in the 1990s and early 2000s, his stint as Howard Stern’s first choice to host a show on Stern’s satellite radio channel from 2006 to 2010, or even his gig as an interviewer with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.

It’s because he’s the cuckolded party in the Hulk Hogan sex video, and hoped to profit off it someday.

Bubba the Love Sponge in 2007, possibly auditioning for a spot in a Smash Mouth tribute band. Beside him is his now ex-wife Heather, who was not yet auditioning for a spot on the Hulk Hogan sex video.

Here’s Wikipedia’s summary of the Hulk Hogan video incident:

In early 2012, it was reported that Clem had filmed his then-wife Heather Clem and Hulk Hogan having sex in his bedroom. Subsequently, on October 4, 2012, Gawker released a short clip of the video.[41] In this video, Clem can be heard saying that the couple can “do their thing” and he will be in his office. Furthermore, at the end of the video, Clem can also be heard telling Heather, “If we ever need to retire, here is our ticket”.[42] Hogan filed a lawsuit against Clem and his now ex-wife for invading his privacy on October 15, 2012.[43] Hogan later settled the lawsuit on October 29, 2012.[44] Following the settlement, Clem also publicly apologized to Hogan.[45] Hogan sued Gawker Media for publishing the tape, and a jury of six awarded Hogan more than $140 million in March 2016.[46] Gawker announced it would appeal as they were “disappointed” that the jury was unable to hear Clem’s testimony,[47] but ultimately reached a $31 million settlement with Hogan in November 2016.[48]

One of the reason’s that Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker succeeded was that Peter Thiel — yes, that Peter Thiel — spent $10 million to help finance lawsuits against Gawker Media, presumably because Gawker had published an article outing him as gay in 2007. The lawsuit set a precedent for rich people shutting down journalism that they don’t like. So yes, the current trend of calling the press “the enemy of the people” (one of the necessary ingredient in the side towards authoritarianism) is at least partly Bubba’s fault.

In you’re wondering where Bubba is now, wonder no longer: Tampa Bay Times has your answer in their article, What happened to Bubba the Love Sponge?

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