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Simpson says deal was 'blood money'

Sought book, TV profits for his children

LOS ANGELES -- O.J. Simpson said he participated in the "If I Did It" book and interview project for one reason -- personal profit -- and acknowledged that any financial gain was "blood money."

"This was an opportunity for my kids to get their financial legacy," he said in interviews this week with the Associated Press after the book deal was abandoned by its publisher. "My kids understand. I made it clear that it's blood money, but it's no different than any of the other writers who did books on this case."

The book, which is said to describe how he theoretically would have committed the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman, had been scheduled for release Nov. 30 after the airing of a two-part Simpson interview on Fox. News Corp., the owner of Fox Broadcasting and publisher HarperCollins, canceled the project after a public outcry and after a furor of objections by a number of advertisers and booksellers.

A copy of the scuttled book appeared for sale on eBay yesterday, purportedly from a seller in Texas, attracted bids of $1,500 within the first two hours. The book attracted a top bid of $65,000 before it was removed from bidding.

News Corp. had said that it was recalling and that it would destroy all copies of the book that were shipped to retailers in advance of publication.

Simpson made it clear that it was not a confession.

"I made it clear from the first day I met the writer that I wasn't involved," Simpson said on Miami's WTPS-AM. "I said, 'I have nothing to confess.' "

Goldman's family, meanwhile, asked News Corp. to turn over its rights to the now-canceled book and interview, a lawyer said yesterday.

In two telephone interviews from his Florida home, Simpson declined to say how much of an advance he received for the book but said it was less than the $3.5 million reported.

He said the money has been spent, including some he had used to meet tax obligations.

Simpson said he was convinced that the book would have been a bestseller.

"My kids would have been coming into a lot of money," he said, adding that he needed the cash because his retirement funds are dwindling.

Prepublication sales for "If I Did It," had been strong, but not sensational. It went into the top 20 of last weekend, but had fallen to a ranking of 51 by the time the cancellation was announced.

Simpson said he deserved the harsh criticism for his role in the project, although he said the News Corp. owner, Rupert Murdoch, appeared to be getting off easy.

"I'm taking heat and I deserve it," Simpson said. "But Murdoch should not be taking the high road either."

The publisher, Judith Regan, has portrayed the book as representing "O.J.'s confession," and it reportedly contained a chapter in which he explained how he could have committed the killings of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman. But Simpson said he did not commit the murders. He said he was disappointed by Regan's portrayal of the book, which he said was ghost-written: "I thought, 'This lady probably thinks I did it, and I didn't.' "

Simpson said Ronald Goldman's father, Fred Goldman, contributed to the draining of his finances with "frivolous lawsuits," including one he brought recently trying to deprive Simpson of the commercial rights to his own name.

Fred Goldman's lawyer, Jonathan G. Polak, said Goldman wants the rights to the material to ensure that all copies are destroyed, and that News Corp. does not sell the rights to "some sleazy cable pay-per-view operation or video site."

A call to News Corp. seeking comment was not returned.

Simpson, 59, said that his NFL pension pays only $1,700 a month, and that the private pension he secured as a TV pitchman and sports commentator is being halved next month because he has had to dip into the principal.

Despite his financial troubles, Simpson indicated he was not entirely unhappy that the project had been abandoned. "I feel like a man who's had the weight of the world taken off me," he said.

Material from Reuters was used in this report.

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