ST. PAUL, Minn. — No sooner did Jesse “The Body” Ventura win one round of civil proceedings than a different federal court slammed the former Navy SEAL, wrestler, governor, and current television host with a $1.8 million fine for defaming himself in the eyes of the nation.
“Win if you can, lose if you must, but always litigate!” Ventura told reporters going into the trial. He quickly changed his tune after the latest verdict was read, reportedly threatening to smash a folding chair into the jury foreperson’s head.
The decision, rendered by a jury of Ventura’s peers—a grouping that proved difficult to summon given the man’s extremely diverse background—effectively forces Ventura to return the $1.8 million he was awarded last Tuesday in a libel suit against Chris Kyle, author of “American Sniper.”
Kyle publicly claimed that he punched Ventura in a 2006 bar fight for saying that the Navy SEALs “deserved to lose a few,” an implausible assertion according to Ventura and one that jeopardized his reputation as a man and former SEAL.
Ventura saw his entertainment career come “to a screeching halt” after Kyle publicized his assertions in a book and on cable TV. Lawyers for Kyle’s estate—the author was shot to death in 2013—argued that Ventura’s 15-minutes of fame had simply waned naturally. “A process speeded along by Ventura’s many self-inflicted wounds,” they claimed.
During his colorful career, Ventura refused to rise for the national anthem, described the nation as “the Fascist States of America,” and hosted TruTV’s “Conspiracy Theory.”
“I spent a lifetime polishing my public image as a noble, even-tempered statesman,” Ventura told the reporters he once famously dismissed as “jackals.”
While successful in making his case that Kyle concocted the bar fight for self-aggrandizement, Ventura is pained that a jury also found the former governor guilty of abandoning reason in the interest of notoriety.
“Do I always speak the unadorned truth?” asked Ventura rhetorically. “Is the Pope Catholic? Are the fights in professional wrestling real? I think you know the answer,” he added.
Editor’s note: Any and all questions as to the veracity of claims made in this article should be addressed to the estate of Chris Kyle.