Vince McMahon retires from WWE amid ‘hush money’ probe

It felt as if there was no chance in hell this day would ever come. But on Friday, Vince McMahon has retired as chairman and CEO from WWE, effective immediately.

McMahon’s announcement comes weeks after news emerged that WWE’s board was investigating settlements that McMahon reached with former female WWE employees with whom he had sexual relationships.

In a statement, McMahon announced that his daughter, Stephanie McMahon, will be chairwoman and co-CEO. The other co-CEO is Nick Khan, who joined WWE as president from CAA in 2020.

Vince McMahon on 'Monday Night Raw' in 2009.Vince McMahon on ‘Monday Night Raw’ in 2009.Getty Images

McMahon with Dr. George T. Zahorian III and wrestler Hulk Hogan in 1988.McMahon with Dr. George T. Zahorian III and wrestler Hulk Hogan in 1988.AP Photo/Richard Drew

McMahon with WWE superstars The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar.McMahon with WWE superstars The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar.PA Images via Getty Images

“As I approach 77 years old, I feel it’s time for me to retire as Chairman and CEO of WWE. Throughout the years, it’s been a privilege to help WWE bring you joy, inspire you, thrill you, surprise you, and always entertain you,” McMahon said in a statement. “I would like to thank my family for mightily contributing to our success, and I would also like to thank all of our past and present Superstars and employees for their dedication and passion for our brand.

“Most importantly, I would like to thank our fans for allowing us into your homes every week and being your choice of entertainment. I hold the deepest appreciation and admiration for our generations of fans all over the world who have liked, currently like, and sometimes even love our form of Sports Entertainment.

(From left to right) Triple H, Chairman Vince McMahon, John Cena and Shawn Michaels (From left to right) Triple H, Chairman Vince McMahon, John Cena and Shawn Michaels Getty Images

Vince McMahonVince McMahonGetty Images

“Our global audience can take comfort in knowing WWE will continue to entertain you with the same fervor, dedication, and passion as always. I am extremely confident in the continued success of WWE, and I leave our company in the capable hands of an extraordinary group of Superstars, employees, and executives – in particular, both Chairwoman and Co-CEO Stephanie McMahon and Co-CEO Nick Khan. As the majority shareholder, I will continue to support WWE in any way I can. My personal thanks to our community and business partners, shareholders, and Board of Directors for their guidance and support through the years. Then. Now. Forever. Together.”

Stephanie McMahon had taken over as interim CEO as her father had stepped away from the role during the board’s investigation.

Vince McMahon had remained in charge of WWE’s creative, and it is not immediately clear what will happen in that direction.

McMahon with daughter Stephanie and Shane McMahon.McMahon with daughter Stephanie and Shane McMahon.Vince McMahon

Vince McMahon and his wife Linda.Vince McMahon and his wife Linda.WireImage

Vince McMahon is stepping down from WWE.Vince McMahon is stepping down from WWE.Getty Images

Earlier Friday, WWE had announced that Stephanie McMahon’s husband, Paul “Triple H” Levesque, would resume duties as EVP of Talent Relations.

In many ways, it is impossible to imagine WWE without Vince McMahon at the helm. He has run the company since he purchased it from his father in 1982, and micromanaged every aspect of the business from the storytelling to the corporate structure. He was also an on-air talent, both as a broadcaster and as an authority figure, “Mr. McMahon,” whom it was impossible to distinguish where the real man ended and acting began. 

In June, the Wall Street Journal first reported that WWE’s board was investigating McMahon after they received an anonymous tip via email that he had paid a $3 million hush money settlement to a former employee with whom he had an affair. 

McMahon getting his head shaved by Donald Trump and Bobby Lashley in the ring in 2007.McMahon getting his head shaved by Donald Trump and Bobby Lashley in the ring in 2007.AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File

The email said that he had hired the woman as a paralegal to a $100,000 salary, and doubled it after the affair began. Then, the email said, McMahon “gave her like a toy” to longtime WWE executive John Laurinaitis. 

The Wall Street Journal later reported that it had been discovered that McMahon had paid a total of $12 million, over the course of at least 16 years, to four different women with whom he had sexual relationships. One of the women, a former wrestler, had alleged in 2018 that years back McMahon had coerced her into oral sex. McMahon had been accused of demoting the wrestler when she ended the relationship, and not renewing her contract when it came up. 

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