In this May 15, 2008 file photo, former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura signs his book, 'Don't Start the Revolution Without Me,' during an appearance at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. Ventura contends he isn't going after the widow of slain 'American Sniper' author Chris Kyle by continuing his defamation lawsuit. (Jim Mone / AP)
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MINNEAPOLIS — Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura contends he isn't going after the widow of slain "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle by continuing his defamation lawsuit, but rather the publisher's insurance company.
"It's not me against her," Ventura said in a wide-ranging interview Monday night with The Associated Press.
Ventura alleges that Kyle, considered to be the deadliest sniper in American history, defamed him in his best-selling book. In it, the former Navy SEAL describes a 2006 bar fight in which he claims he punched someone named "Scruff Face," whom he later identified as Ventura. Ventura, also a former Navy SEAL and pro wrestler, says the fight never happened.
"It's never been about money. It's about clearing my name. It's a lie," Ventura said.
Kyle and a friend were killed in February 2013 at a Texas gun range; an Iraq war veteran whom Kyle was trying to help is accused in the killings. A federal judge has allowed Ventura's lawsuit to proceed with Kyle's widow, Taya Kyle, as the defendant.
Ventura said that by becoming executor of her husband's estate, "she chose to come into this case." But in a September court filing, Taya Kyle's attorneys said she did not "voluntarily inject herself" into the lawsuit and that insurance would not cover all of the possible costs and damages.
Ventura's comments came after being asked about the case during an interview to promote his new show, "Off the Grid," on digital network Ora TV.
The former governor, who left office in 2003, said his show gives him freedom to talk about whatever he wants. Ventura said the show is "a step up" from when he had a short-lived Saturday evening talk show on MSNBC in late 2003.
"I have complete control," Ventura said.