WWE Board Investigates Vince McMahon’s Secret $3M Hush Fee

Vince McMahon attends a press conference at MetLife Stadium on February 16, 2012 in East Rutherford, NJ.

Michael N. Todaro | Getty Images

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing documents and people familiar with the matter, that World Wrestling Entertainment’s board is investigating a $3 million hush-money settlement over CEO Vince McMahon’s alleged extramarital affair with a woman. fees paid.

The WSJ added that the deal, reached in January, was designed to prevent the woman, who worked as a paralegal for the company, from discussing her relationship with McMahon or making critical comments about the CEO.

A WWE spokesperson told the paper that the company is cooperating with the board’s investigation and that the relationship between McMahon and the woman was consensual.

McMahon, 76, is married to Linda McMahon, a former WWE CEO and head of the Small Business Administration in the administration of former President Donald Trump, a WWE Hall of Famer.

The board’s investigation, which began in April, also revealed nondisclosure agreements related to allegations of misconduct by other women who have worked in WWE, the report said. The WSJ added that the deals involved McMahon and WWE talent chief John Laurinaitis, who wrestled under the name Johnny Ace.

WWE did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

The board hired New York-based law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP to investigate, a source told The Wall Street Journal. The company did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

McMahon’s attorney, Jerry McDevitt, had no immediate comment. McDevitt told The Wall Street Journal that the former employee has not brought any harassment allegations against McMahon. He also said WWE did not pay her any money, the paper said.

The news comes at a pivotal time for Wrestling Entertainment. In May, executive Stephanie McMahon, the daughter of Vince and Linda McMahon, resigned from her senior role at the company. part of the responsibilities. “WWE is a lifetime legacy for me and I look forward to returning to the company I love after focusing on my family during this time,” she was on twitter.

WWE has also been the subject of speculation over a potential sale and its media rights. It has deals with Fox, USA Network, Hulu and NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service. The Hulu deal expires this year.

The company is publicly traded, but McMahon owns the majority of WWE’s voting power. In 1982, he took over the company from his father, also named Vince McMahon. Under the watchful eye of a young McMahon, WWE, then known as the World Wrestling Federation, became a global powerhouse. In the decades since, the company has spawned superstars like Hulk Hogan, Brett “Killer” Hart, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Dave Bautista.

This is far from the first time McMahon has caused controversy. In 1993, he was indicted on federal charges related to anabolic steroids, which he and several professional wrestlers in the WWF stables used. He was acquitted in 1994. McMahon and company also came under fire in 1999 for continuing to perform after Brett’s brother, superstar Owen Hart, fell to his death from the rafters of the arena while performing a stunt. The company eventually agreed to pay the Hart family $18 million for the wrestler’s death.

Read the full WSJ report here.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

– CNBC’s Candice Choi contributed to this report.

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