Why Vince McMahon is under investigation by WWE board; $3M hush pact reportedly uncovered

As trading came to a close Wednesday, WWE appeared to be doing well compared to the rest of the stock market. Shares were up by almost 5 percent. Then things got interesting fast after The Wall Street Journal published a report that WWE’s board had ordered an investigation of CEO Vince McMahon.  

The Journal reported that the investigation began in April and involved McMahon allegedly paying a woman $3 million in hush money to stay silent about having an affair with him. A separation agreement has barred the now-former employee from discussing their relationship, the WSJ reported.

Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics later reported that WWE sent a note to staff about the WSJ article. 

“The Wall Street Journal has published a report about WWE with allegations that we and our Board of Directors take seriously. We are cooperating fully with the independent investigation initiated by our Board of Directors,” WWE said. 

MORE: Why Stephanie McMahon is taking a leave of absence from WWE

What did the board’s investigation of Vince McMahon find?

The board launched an investigation after some of its members received a series of anonymous emails beginning on March 30. The emails, which according to the Journal were sent by someone who claimed to be a friend of the woman, included complaints against McMahon and John Laurinaitis, WWE’s head of talent relations.  

The writer of the email said that McMahon allegedly hired a woman at a $100,000 annual salary but then increased the salary to $200,000 following a sexual relationship. McMahon also “gave her like a toy” to Laurinaitis, one email claimed. Sources told the Journal that the woman was hired to work as a paralegal.

“My friend was so scared, so she quit after Vince McMahon and lawyer Jerry (McDevitt) paid her millions of dollars to shut up,” the author of the email wrote. McMahon allegedly used personal funds to pay the claims.

McDevitt told the Journal that the woman did not receive any money when she left WWE.

The investigation’s findings also included older nondisclosure agreements to settle claims by other female WWE employees, the Journal reported.

The board hired New York law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP to conduct the investigation.

Other recent WWE events, Vince McMahon history

McMahon, 76, is married to Linda McMahon, who served as administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration under former President Donald Trump. Vince McMahon has had legal issues in the past. He was indicted (and later acquitted) on federal charges relating to anabolic steroids in 1993. 

MORE: Why is Ric Flair returning to the ring?

The Journal’s report comes not long after major changes within WWE. Shane McMahon, Vince’s son, no longer works for the company. Stephanie McMahon, his daughter and WWE’s former chief brand officer, took a leave of absence in May. Stephanie’s husband, Paul Levesque (aka Triple H), is back working full time for WWE after a health scare that led to his retirement from in-ring competition.

Levesque and Stephanie McMahon are both members of WWE’s board.  

Nick Khan has become WWE’s president and chief revenue officer. His role has increased over time since he joined the company in 2020. He has taken on some of Stephanie McMahon’s responsibilities since her departure. 

It should be noted that Khan has admitted to fielding calls from entities that were interested in buying WWE. As of now, he says, WWE is not looking for a buyer. WWE reported revenue of $1.1 billion and operating income of $259 million during the 2021 fiscal year.

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