Jesse Ventura Wins $1.8 Million Defamation Suit Against Dead Navy SEAL Chris Kyle

Truth rating: 10
(Getty Images)

By Michael Lewittes

Jesse Ventura Defamation

(Getty Images)

Jesse Ventura was awarded more than $1.8 million on Tuesday, stemming from his defamation lawsuit against the estate of Chris Kyle, the retired Navy SEAL who wrote the bestseller “American Sniper.”

By a vote of 8-2, a jury decided after six days of deliberations that Kyle’s 2012 book defamed the former wrestler and Minnesota governor in a passage that described a 2006 fight in a California bar frequented by naval personnel.

In the book, Kyle said he slugged a guy, whom he later identified in interviews as Ventura, after the man allegedly said the Navy SEALS deserved to “lose a few.” Ventura swore in court that Kyle made up the anecdote, while the author testified in a videotape made before his death last year that the story was true.

Despite the huge legal bar of proving “malice” when it comes to comments made about high-profile figures, Ventura won. He was awarded $1.845 million — $500,000 in damages for defamation and $1.345 million for “unjust enrichment” because of the money Kyle earned off the bestseller. Ventura had shown in court that his yearly income had significantly dropped off after the allegations made by Kyle. Many had questioned the former governor pursuing the case against Kyle’s estate after the vet’s death.

Kyle, a marksman who had the most kills in U.S. military history and served in Iraq with the Navy SEALS, was shot to death in February 2013 at a shooting range near Glen Rose, Texas by 25-year-old Iraq and Afghanistan vet Eddie Ray Routh.

What do you think of the verdict?

Enter your email address here to receive daily news updates from us.


  1. Gossip Cop
  2. Mediaite
  3. RunwayRiot
  4. The Mary Sue