The footage of Rice hitting his then-fiancee cost almost $90,000, reports the New Yorker.
TMZ paid almost $90,000 for footage of former Ravens running back Ray Rice striking his then-fiancee in an Atlantic City, N.J., casino elevator in February 2014, according to a New Yorker investigation into the celebrity gossip website.
A former TMZ photographer said the site also earlier paid $15,000 for a low-resolution clip of Rice dragging Janay Palmer from the elevator, which it posted four days after the Feb. 15 incident in the casino. TMZ declined to discuss payments but called the latter figure "overblown," according to the New Yorker.
TMZ has long been criticized for its practice of "checkbook journalism," with payments to sources for news having become part of its modus operandi. But in Rice's case, the site acquired what the NFL could not (or at least said it had not). Before TMZ released the second, more damning elevator video Sept. 8, 2014, Rice was close to returning from his two-game NFL ban. Within hours of publication, Rice had been released and suspended indefinitely.
"TMZ did the job the mainstream sports media failed to do in showing us the ugliness of this incident," Baltimore Sun TV columnist David Zurawik wrote after Rice had been suspended. "And don't talk to me about paying for video. Everybody does it in one form or another today, from the networks to the cable channels to the biggest mainstream web outlets in the world."