MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura says his reputation is restored.
Ventura reacted to the verdict in an exclusive interview with WCCO’s Mark Rosen.
“I don’t feel great,” Ventura said. “I mean feel good over the fact that I’ve been vindicated, that now they know the story was not true, it was fabricated from day one.”
Watch The Full Interview Below
The jury awarded Ventura $500,000 in damages for defamation and $1.3 million for unjust enrichment. Defense attorneys say Taya Kyle, the widow of author Chris Kyle, will pay $1.3 million out of her own pocket. She released a statement saying the verdict left her shocked and speechless.
After three weeks of trial and six days of deliberation, Ventura says even he was nervous for the verdict.
“Sure, you’re nervous, because anytime a jury is out for over a week you have no idea what is going through their minds,” the former governor said. “The end result I’m pleased with because my reputation is restored now — what’s left of it.”
Jurors could not reach a unanimous decision. Instead voted 8-2 in Ventura’s favor agreeing he was defamed by the “American Sniper” author who wrote he punched out Ventura for criticizing the SEALs’ role in the Iraq war.
Ventura says he didn’t want to go forward with a lawsuit, but felt forced into it.
“My back was against the wall,” he said. “They would do nothing to restore my reputation. They would not admit one inch that the story was fabricated. There was nothing else I could do but take it to court.”
Although he won in court, Ventura says his reputation with the SEALs is forever destroyed.
“The SEALs are my unit,” he said, “and I can’t go out to SEAL reunions anymore.”
The battle in court may not be over.
Taya Kyle was at home when the verdict was read, but in a statement, she wrote: “When it comes to my family, honor and standing up for what is right…I am never out of the fight.”
The attorney for the Kyle estate says he is not closing the door on an appeal.
Ventura’s side is not walking away quietly.
They’re asking HarperCollins to remove the disputed section from Kyle’s book. If not, Ventura’s attorney said, “publish at your own risk.”