Behind-the-scenes changes are taking place at World Wrestling Entertainment amid an investigation. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, WWE's Vince McMahon is being investigated after being accused of misconduct and has stepped down, for the time being, from his roles of CEO and chairman. Also an onscreen personality, the WWE head is being accused of making multi-million dollar hush payments to women with whom he had sexual relationships. His dealings with one woman became known after anonymous emails were sent to the WWE board.
Read on to find out more about what McMahon has been accused of and to see how he responded.
Anonymous emails triggered the investigation.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the WWE board is investigating a $3 million payment that McMahon allegedly made to a paralegal who was hired at the company in 2019. The board learned about the alleged payment in a series of anonymous emails said to be from a friend of the paralegal in question. The email also claims that the paralegal was initially paid a $100,000 salary, but that it was increased to $200,000 after she began a sexual relationship with McMahon. McMahon has been married to his wife, Linda McMahon, since 1966.
The investigation has reportedly unearthed more payouts.
The Wall Street Journal reports that, according to people familiar with the investigation, after the inquiry began in April, other instances of women allegedly signing nondisclosure agreements and being paid off by McMahon were uncovered. Additionally, John Laurinaitis, a former wrestler and WWE's head of talent relations, is also being accused of misconduct. The email from the supposed friend of the paralegal claims that McMahon "gave her like a toy" to Laurinaitis.
For more celebrity news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
McMahon stepped down from two roles.
Amid the investigation, McMahon has voluntarily stepped down as CEO and chairman of WWE, according to The Hollywood Reporter. His daughter, Stephanie McMahon, has taken on both roles in the interim. "McMahon will retain his role and responsibilities related to WWE's creative content during this period and remains committed to cooperating with the review underway," WWE told THR.
McMahon and WWE have released statements.
"I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the special committee, and I will do everything possible to support the investigation," McMahon told THR in a statement. "I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are."
Additionally, McMahon's lawyer told The Wall Street Journal that the unnamed paralegal hadn't made any claims of harassment and claimed that "WWE did not pay any monies" to her "on her departure." A WWE spokesperson said that the relationship was consensual and that the company is taking the accusations seriously.
"WWE and its board of directors take all allegations of misconduct very seriously," reads a statement given to THR. "The independent directors of the board engaged independent legal counsel to assist them with an independent review. In addition, the special committee and WWE will work with an independent third-party to conduct a comprehensive review of the company's compliance program, HR function and overall culture."
Best Life reached out to WWE for additional comment from McMahon and Laurinaitis but has not yet received a response.
McMahon will reportedly speak out on SmackDown tonight.
A press release from WWE simply says that McMahon will appear on WWE SmackDown on Friday, June 17 live on Fox. According to CNBC, a source claims that the 76-year-old will address the situation in character as "Mr. McMahon", the alter ego in which he appears on SmackDown. The source said that the show's writers were working to change the script, which had been completed earlier in the week, on the day of the show.
READ THIS NEXT: See The Rock's 19-Year-Old Daughter, Who's Climbing Up the WWE Ranks.