WWE Investigation Finds Vince McMahon Paid $19.6 Million Off-The-Books
By Jason Hall
August 9, 2022
Former WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon paid an additional $5 million in off-the-book personal expenses, according to an SEC filing by the company on Tuesday (August 9), totaling $19.6 million in personal expenses.
The payments, which were uncovered during the company's ongoing investigation into claims of sexual misconduct committed by McMahon, made two payments in 2007 and 2009 that should have been included in the company's consolidated financial statements.
WWE didn't specify what the payments were for.
Last month, WWE disclosed $14.6 million in previously unrecorded expenses paid by McMahon, its top shareholder, three days after his official retirement announcement.
The company also hinted that the allegations against McMahon, which have been independently overseen by its board, are also being investigated by other entities.
“The Company has also received, and may receive in the future, regulatory, investigative and enforcement inquiries, subpoenas or demands arising from, related to, or in connection with these matters,” WWE said in the SEC filing.
In July, the Wall Street Journal, which exclusively reported WWE's investigation a $3 million hush-money settlement paid by McMahon to a woman over an alleged affair, reported that the 76-year-old paid more than $12 million in hush money to four women during the past 16 years in an effort to suppress allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity.
McMahon officially announced his retirement in an official statement shared by the company, confirming his daughter, acting chairwoman and CEO Stephanie McMahon, and WWE President Nick Khan, would take over as co-CEOs amid his departure.
Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer reported McMahon's son-in-law, Paul 'Triple H' Levesque, would be leading WWE creative, according to an email sent to WWE employees, which was later confirmed by Levesque.
Email just sent to WWE employees. Paul Levesque is the top man responsible for creative.— Dave Meltzer (@davemeltzerWON) July 25, 2022
WWE announced Levesque would resume his executive position as WWE's EVP of talent relations effective immediately on July 22, hours before McMahon officially announced his retirement.
“I look forward to returning to my prior position as head of Talent Relations. I’m healthy, fired up, and ready to take charge,” Levesque said at the time in a news release shared on WWE.com.
All four of the women mentioned in the Wall Street Journal's report were formerly affiliated with WWE and signed agreements with McMahon prohibiting them from discussing possible legal claims or their relationship with him publicly, sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed to the Journal.
The newer reported settlements include McMahon paying $7.5 million to a former WWE wrestler who claimed McMahon coerced her into giving him oral sex and then demoted her before ultimately deciding not to renew her contract after she resisted additional sexual encounters, sources familiar with the situation confirmed to the Journal.
A WWE contractor also claimed that McMahon sent her unsolicited nude photos of himself to her and sexually harassed her on the job, which resulted in a payout of "roughly $1 million," according to sources.
A former manager who had previously worked for McMahon for 10 years alleged that McMahon initiated a sexual relationship with her and paid $1 million in hush money, sources with knowledge confirmed to the Journal.
McMahon voluntarily stepped down from his responsibilities amid the ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct and would be replaced by his daughter on an interim basis.
“I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the Special Committee, and I will do everything possible to support the investigation. I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are,” McMahon said in the joint release on behalf of WWE and its Board of Directors.
Since then, McMahon had made multiple in-character appearances on both Friday Night SmackDown and Monday Night Raw, though not directly addressing the allegations or investigation and appeared publicly at the UFC 276 event in Las Vegas shortly after the conclusion of WWE's Money in the Bank event in the same city.
According to the Journal, the agreement was made in January to prevent the woman, a former WWE paralegal, from discussing her relationship with McMahon or making critical statements about him publicly.
A spokesperson for WWE confirmed to the Journal that the company is cooperating with the board's investigation -- which was launched in April -- and that the relationship between the 76-year-old and the former employee was consensual.
McMahon has been married to his wife, Linda -- who served as WWE's president and later CEO from 1980 to 2009 and later as Small Business Administration chief as part of former President Donald Trump's administration from 2017 to 2019 -- since 1966.
The Journal also reports that the board's investigation revealed other nondisclosure pacts stemming from misconduct claims involving other women who had previously worked for WWE, which involved McMahon and John Laurinaitis, WWE's general manager of talent relations, who was reportedly fired on Monday (August 8), according to PWInsider.
McMahon disposed 38,519 of his shares of World Wrestling Entertainment stock at $0 following his recent retirement, but still remains the company's top shareholder, according to an SEC filing shared on WWE's official corporate website on July 26.