Vince McMahon, a longtime executive for World Wrestling Entertainment who led skilled wrestling from a sideshow curiosity right into a mainstream phenomenon, has stepped down as chairman and chief executive while the corporate’s board investigates allegations of misconduct against him, the corporate said on Friday.
Stephanie McMahon, his daughter, will take over as interim chief executive and chairwoman, the corporate said in an announcement. Mr. McMahon will remain involved with W.W.E.’s creative content and “stays committed to cooperating with the review underway,” the corporate said.
“I even have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the Special Committee, and I’ll do every thing possible to support the investigation,” Mr. McMahon said in an announcement. “I even have also pledged to just accept the findings and consequence of the investigation, whatever they’re.”
Mr. McMahon briefly appeared on “Friday Night SmackDown” in the beginning of the show. He stepped into the ring to applause.
“I’m here simply to remind you of the 4 words we just saw,” Mr. McMahon told the group, referring to the W.W.E. signature in the beginning of the published. “Those 4 words are ‘then, now, perpetually,’ and an important word is ‘together.’ Welcome to SmackDown.”
Mr. McMahon then dropped a microphone and stepped out of the ring, high-fiving fans as he left.
On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Mr. McMahon agreed to pay a secret $3 million settlement to an worker with whom he was said to have had an affair, and that the board had been investigating since April. The investigation unearthed other nondisclosure agreements involving claims of misconduct by Mr. McMahon, The Journal reported.
A lawyer for Mr. McMahon told The Journal that the worker had not made any claims of harassment against Mr. McMahon and that he used personal funds to pay the settlement.
Removed from an anonymous executive, Mr. McMahon is amongst probably the most recognizable faces of skilled wrestling, adopting a swagger-filled public persona who is usually at the middle of the on-screen motion. Since taking on his father’s wrestling company in 1982, Mr. McMahon has presided over its ascent right into a cultural giant, with greater than $1 billion in revenue in 2021. W.W.E’s programs are aired in 30 languages and are distributed through NBCUniversal and Fox Sports, amongst others.
The corporate said it had hired independent legal counsel to conduct the investigation, and would also work with an independent organization to review the corporate’s compliance program, human resources function and overall culture.
Jesus Jiménez contributed reporting.