WWE’s Vince McMahon ‘paid out $12 million in hush money to four women over 16 years after they accused him of sexual harassment’: Wrestling giant boss was forced to step down during investigation
- The longtime leader of the WWE paid out more than $12 million in hush money over a 16 year span to women who say he sexually harassed them, the Wall Street Journal reports
- McMahon allegedly coerced a female wrestler to give him oral sex before demoting her and declining to renew her contract
- She was paid roughly $7.5 million in 2018 to keep quiet about the incidents
- McMahon also paid a WWE contractor around $1 million after she came to the company with unsolicited nude pictures sent to her by him
- He is hugely valuable to WWE, and is described by the company as ‘critical’ to their success
- The company reported a record revenue last year of $1.1 billion
Vince McMahon, the longtime leader of the WWE, allegedly paid out more than $12 million in hush money over a 16 year span to women who accused him of sexual harassment.
The payouts were made to four women, all of whom signed agreements that forbid them from disclosing any potential legal claims against McMahon, or their relationships with him, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The previously unreported settlements stem from incidents starting in 2005, when McMahon allegedly coerced a female wrestler to give him oral sex before demoting her and declining to renew her contract, people familiar with the matter said.
The wrestler was retaliated against after she turned down further sexual advances from McMahon, and she was paid roughly $7.5 million in 2018 to keep quiet about the incidents, according to the Journal.
McMahon, who is worth $2.1 billion, also allegedly paid a WWE contractor around $1 million after she came to the company with unsolicited nude pictures of McMahon that were sent to her by him.
WWE wrestling is investigating Vince McMahon over claims he paid women hush money after they accused him of misconduct, including a 41-year-old paralegal who says he gave her $3million after they had an affair
Trump and McMahon at the 2011 WrestleMania 23 at Trump Tower
That woman also reported instances of sexual harassment on the job, and negotiated an non-disclosure agreement in 2008, said people familiar with the matter.
In a 2006 agreement, a former manager who had worked with McMahon for 10 years before starting a sexual relationship with him was paid $1 million to keep quiet about it.
The Journal also previously reported on a $3 million agreement between McMahon and a former WWE paralegal with whom he allegedly had a consensual affair.
The paralegal met McMahon in the building they lived in before he gave her a job without her applying, according to the report.
WWE’s board is investigating both the affair with the paralegal along with the 2018 deal that was made with the former wrestler. It is unclear if they are also investigating the agreements with the former manager and contractor.
The board is also investigating claims that WWE executive John Laurinaitis had sexual relations with the same paralegal.
Laurinaitis, a former wrestler known as Johnny Ace, was head of WWE talent relations from 2004-2012 before being forced into a smaller role at the company.
The same year he stepped down, he was allegedly involved in a $1.5 million non-disclosure agreement with an employee who made misconduct claims against him. The employee claims she was demoted after ending a sexual relationship with Laurinaitis.
Laurinaitis was restored to his former role as head of talent relations last year before being placed on administrative leave.
The investigation by board’s outside counsel, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, was triggered after WWE directors received anonymous emails earlier this year that said McMahon and Laurinaitis took advantage of the former paralegal.
Vince McMahon pictured in 2022 with his daughter Stephanie McMahon
McMahon stepped aside as chief executive and chairman of WWE on June 17, and was replaced by his daughter, Stephanie, pending the outcome of the investigation.
McMahon is hugely valuable to WWE, and is described by the company as ‘critical’ to their success. The company reported a record revenue last year of $1.1 billion.
WWE’s revenue comes in part from a five-year exclusive $1 billion deal with NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service, and TV licensing agreements with Fox and NBCUniversal.