The Story of O.J. Simpson’s Controversial Book, “If I Did It”, And Why It Was Canceled And Later Released

Simpson’s hypothetical account of how he would have killed his ex-wife and her friend was published by one of the victim’s family in 2007

<p>Ethan Miller/Getty; Beaufort Books</p> O.J. Simpson and the cover of

Ethan Miller/Getty; Beaufort Books

O.J. Simpson and the cover of 'If I Did It'

O.J. Simpson died on April 10 from cancer. He was 76.

The contentious figure, who was an actor, broadcaster and Hall of Fame football player, is now arguably best-known for his arrest, trial and acquittal for the 1994 murders of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. Following an hours-long televised police chase — which garnered 95 million viewers — Simpson's trial lasted for months before jurors declared him not guilty of the killings in 1995. 

In 2007, Simpson was arrested on non-related felony charges for armed robbery and kidnapping. At that point, he was convicted and sentenced to 33 years in prison following a 2008 trial, and was released in Oct. 2017 after serving nearly nine years.

Simpson’s alleged involvement with Brown and Goldman’s murders was the subject of a highly controversial book. If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer, Simpson’s hypothetical account of how he would have murdered Brown and Goldman, had a rocky road to its eventual 2007 publication. 

<p>Beaufort Books</p> The cover for 'If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer'

Beaufort Books

The cover for 'If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer'

Prior to If I Did It, Simpson published I Want to Tell You: My Response to Your Letters, Your Messages, Your Questions in 1995, while he waited to appear before the jury for his hearing. Per the book’s description, I Want to Tell You was intended to be “an emotional and factual self-portrait of O. J.'s mind at this critical time,” and included letters that Simpson had received since his incarceration.

Related: Revisiting the O.J. Simpson Murder Trial: The Shocking Details, Key Players and Verdict

In 2006, publisher Judith Regan announced that she would publish a book by O.J. Simpson through ReganBooks, a former imprint of HarperCollins. Regan claimed that Simpson’s legal team contacted her in a 2006 interview, which became public in 2018.

“I received a phone call from an attorney who said that O.J. was ready to confess,” Regan said in the interview. “And actually, I thought it was some kind of a scam and didn’t believe him, and I thought, ‘This guy’s a lunatic,’ but I took his number and said I’d call him back.”

<p>Isaac Brekken-Pool/Getty</p> O.J. Simpson in 2008

Isaac Brekken-Pool/Getty

O.J. Simpson in 2008

“The next day, I called him back and he said he was willing to do it, and the only condition that he had was that he didn’t want to call the book I Did It," Regan claimed. “He wanted to put an ‘if’ in front of it, so he would have deniability with his children. He couldn’t face his children and he couldn’t tell them that he had done it. That was the way it was portrayed to me. That was his only condition.”

The book sold for a reported $3.5 million and was set to publish on Nov. 30, 2006. However, outrage from both the public and the victims' families led to the book’s publication being canceled. Regan was also fired by HarperCollins on the heels of the controversy.

Related: The O.J. Nobody Knew — Read PEOPLE's July 4, 1994 Cover Story

“I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project,” Rupert Murdoch, then-News Corp. chairman, said in 2006. “We are sorry for any pain that this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson.”

Agence France Presse/Getty O.J. Simpson (center) with his attorneys in 1995
Agence France Presse/Getty O.J. Simpson (center) with his attorneys in 1995

In the wake of his 1995 acquittal, Simpson was sued by both the Brown and Goldman families in civil court. The court ruled in the families' favor in 1997, and awarded them a $33.5 million liability judgment, though Simpson only paid a fraction of the initial amount.

Related: What Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman's Families Have Said Over the Years About O.J. Simpson

Following the cancellation of the book, however, a battle for the rights to If I Did It ensued. Lorraine Brooke Associates, a company run by Simpson’s daughter, Arnelle, with the Simpson children as the main shareholders, had negotiated the original book deal with HarperCollins. However, after a California judge ordered the rights sold to benefit the Goldman family, Lorraine Brooke Associates filed for bankruptcy.

In 2007, rights were awarded to the Goldman family, CBS reported at the time, to satisfy a $38 million wrongful death judgment against Simpson. The judge presiding over that case found that Lorraine Brooke Associates was founded in an attempt to hide O.J. Simpson's involvement with the book, which led them to award the rights to the Goldmans, CBS reported.

<p>Jason Bean-Pool/Getty</p> O.J. Simpson in 2017

Jason Bean-Pool/Getty

O.J. Simpson in 2017

The Browns, who won a $24 million wrongful death case against Simpson, were awarded a 10% cut of the book’s first gross proceeds. The Goldmans were tasked with bearing the burden of finding the book a publisher, as well as its marketing efforts.

With the rights secured, the Goldman family published a revised edition of If I Did It in 2007. The new book included Simpson’s original text, as well as additional commentary from the Goldman family, the book’s original ghostwriter Pablo Fenjves and journalist Dominick Dunne. The new edition also covered the bankruptcy case and the court proceedings that led to Simpson’s conviction, per the book's description.

Related: Ron Goldman's Father Says O.J. Simpson's Death Is Just a Reminder of 'How Long Ron Has Been Gone' (Exclusive)

"After 13 years of trying to get some justice, today is probably the first time we had any sense of seeing light at the end of the tunnel," Goldman’s father, Fred, said at the hearing after the book rights were awarded. "It's gratifying to see."

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According to Amazon, all royalties from the book's sales are currently awarded to the Goldman family.

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