World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon will step aside from the company’s business affairs amid an investigation into allegations of a hush-money payment to a former employee and new accusations of sexual misconduct.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Thursday that McMahon paid a secret $3 million settlement to an unnamed female employee, a WWE paralegal, in order to keep their “consensual” affair private. That separation agreement was finalized in January 2022.
The investigation into that claim unearthed “other, older nondisclosure agreements involving claims by former female WWE employees of misconduct by Mr. McMahon,” the WSJ reported, as well as claims against Head of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis.
Until the conclusion of the investigation into recent allegations, I am honored to assume the role of interim Chairwoman & CEO. I love @WWE and all it continues to do to entertain billions around the world. https://t.co/E2MushpoSG
— Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) June 17, 2022
“I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the special committee, and I will do everything possible to support the investigation,” McMahon said in a statement Friday. “I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are.”
Although McMahon is taking a leave of absence from the business side of his nearly 70-year-old family business — daughter and chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon will take over as CEO and chairwoman in the interim — Vince will continue his villainous role as part of WWE’s on-screen talent, with McMahon scheduled to appear as part of tonight’s SmackDown taping.
Mr. McMahon will appear on SmackDown tonight at 8 PM ET live on FOX. pic.twitter.com/6XEEDwR0Hy
— WWE (@WWE) June 17, 2022
The WWE added in a statement that they have recruited independent legal services to launch a “comprehensive review of the company’s compliance program, HR function and overall culture,” adding the company takes “all allegations of misconduct very seriously.”
As CNN notes, the WWE board is comprised largely of McMahon family members that report directly to Vince, who maintains majority voting power of the company he acquired in 1982 from his father, Vince McMahon Sr. Vince McMahon is married to Linda McMahon, a two-time Republican nominee in Connecticut’s senatorial race (she lost both times) who also served for two years on former President Donald Trump’s Small Business Administration.