Jesse Ventura, 63, navy veteran, former pro wrestler with the World Wrestling Federation and Minnesota‘s governor from 1999 to 2003, won his defamation lawsuit against the recently murdered Navy SEAL sniper and author, Chris Kyle. Ventura left a Minnesota courtroom on July 29 $1.845 million richer as a result of the lawsuit going his way, according to The Washington Post.
The former governor, who also served as part of the U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Team during the Vietnam War era, sued Kyle for defamation over an incident that apparently never happened, according to the jury voting in Ventura’s favor in the lawsuit. Kyle said that he punched Ventura in a bar in 2006 after Ventura was alleged to have made some disparaging remarks about Navy SEALs, saying that they “’deserved to lose some’ for their actions in the war.” Ventura said that incident never happened and he never uttered those words. And eight members of a ten-person jury agreed with him yesterday.
Ventura sued Kyle back in 2012 after claiming that Kyle’s book, “American Sniper,” included passages referring to Ventura “that were false and defamatory,” according to CBS News. And although Ventura may have come out on top in court, he now finds himself in the court of public opinion doghouse for suing and taking money from the wife of a murdered naval veteran. Many people, especially military veterans, are saying no matter what did or did not happen in that bar in 2006, that Ventura should have dropped his lawsuit after Kyle was shot dead on a Texas gun range in February 2013.
Even Anderson Cooper, CNN’s relatively unflappable newsman, weighed in viscerally Tuesday night. His response: “I cannot believe that Jesse Ventura successfully sued the widow of fallen Navy SEAL. Has he no shame?”
Cooper, challenged shortly afterward on Twitter on why Ventura should let people “trash” his name, fired back at a follower: “dude, I saw Jesse Ventura’s conspiracy theory tv show once, he’s done quite a good job of trashing his own name.”
Ventura is now lamenting the fact that he won’t be welcome at future reunions for military veterans who served with the Navy SEALS or the Underwater Demolition Teams. He’s concerned that he’d have to spend his time at any future ruinous looking over his shoulder. After the jury voted in his favor yesterday, Ventura said “I can’t go to UDT-SEAL reunions anymore because that was the place I always felt safe, and who will be next to throw me under the bus?”
Royalties from Kyle’s “American Sniper” best seller are expected to top $3 million. A 2015 theatrical release based on the book directed by Clint Eastwood and starring actor Bradley Cooper as Kyle, would bring even more funds into the late sniper’s estate.
But now that a jury has determined that events Kyle brought up about Ventura aren’t true, Kyle’s reputation is coming under scrutiny, causing “some to question anew the veracity of the details in Kyle’s book.” HarperCollins, publisher of Kyle’s “American Sniper,” announced today that it would be removing the passage referencing Ventura from Kyle’s book.