Update 10:00 AM: Sources confirm that Hogan has been replaced as a judge on USA’s WWE Tough Enough, and the reality series’ next episode on Tuesday will feature a replacement judge.
Update 9:41 AM: Hogan has apologized for the remarks in a statement given to People Magazine:
Eight years ago I used offensive language during a conversation. 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 in a statement exclusively to PEOPLE. The transcript featuring that conversation was published online by the National Enquirer.
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 told PEOPLE. “I am disappointed with myself that I used language that is offensive and inconsistent with my own beliefs.
Previously: WWE just ended its relationship with former wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan amid reports that he made racist comments in a 2012 sex tape. That recording is at the center of his potentially precedent-setting $100 million lawsuit in Florida alleging that Gawker.com violated his privacy when it posted a story about, and a clip from, the recording — later taken down. (The site says he’s a public figure, making the information newsworthy.)
WWE says this morning that it terminated the contract with Hogan — whose real name is Terry Bollea. The reason: “WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide.”
Wrestling News Source reports that Hogan is “no longer listed as one of the judges” on the website for USA Network’s WWE Tough Enough. And on WWE.com, Hogan is “no longer listed on the WWE Hall of Fame page, and all of his merchandise has also been removed from WWEShop.com.”
The split with WWE follows a joint report by the National Enquirer and RadarOnline.com about the 2012 tape. They say that it includes “a revolting conversation in which the pro wrestling icon unleashed a filthy bigoted attack, littered with the N-word and other disgusting racial insults.”
Earlier this morning Hogan tweeted:
No other living person is as closely associated with WWE, and with professional wrestling as a pop culture phenomenon, as is Hulk Hogan. Hogan’s appearance in Rocky III helped kickstart the mainstreaming sports entertainment, and his name is synonymous with the medium. Only once once before has WWE gone so far as to completely extricate itself from association with talent. That was in 2007, after wrestling icon Chris Benoit murdered his wife and subsequently took his own life.