Vince McMahon steps down as WWE CEO and chairman during an investigation into alleged misconduct involving the longtime leader and the organization’s public face.
McMahon will continue to oversee WWE’s creative content during the investigation, World Wrestling Entertainment said Friday, naming McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie, as interim CEO and chairman.
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Vince McMahon will appear on his live show “SmackDown” later Friday, WWE said on Twitter after announcing the changes in the organization’s leadership.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that WWE was investigating an alleged $3 million settlement that McMahon paid to a departing female employee after a consensual affair.
“I have pledged my full cooperation to the investigation by the special commission and I will do everything possible to support the investigation,” McMahon said in a prepared statement Friday. “I also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they may be.”
The employee, who was hired as a paralegal in 2019, has a divorce agreement as of January that prevents her from discussing or discrediting her relationship with McMahon, the Journal reports.
The board’s investigation, which began in April, found other, older nondisclosure agreements containing claims by former WWE female employees of misconduct by McMahon and John Laurinaitis, the head of talent relations at WWE, the Journal reported.
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Aside from investigating the alleged misconduct by McMahon and Laurinaitis, WWE said the company and its special committee will work with an independent third party to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the working environment at the organization.
Vince McMahon has been the leader and most recognizable face at WWE for decades.
When he bought the company, then the World Wrestling Federation, from his father in 1982, wrestling matches took place in small venues and appeared on local cable channels.
The organization underwent a seismic transformation under McMahon. He created WrestleMania, a premium live event that attracts millions of ardent viewers.
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WWE stars have become crossover sensations, including Hulk Hogan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and John Cena.
Stephanie McMahon, who will take over WWE at least temporarily, announced last month that she was leave of absence of most of its responsibilities with the organization. She had served as the company’s chief brand officer.
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Her husband, Paul Levesque, who wrestled under the name Triple H, announced in March that he would retire from wrestling due to a heart condition. Levesque is WWE’s executive vice president of strategy and development.
“I have pledged to do everything in my power to help the special committee complete its work, including the cooperation of the entire company to assist in the completion of the investigation and implement the findings,” he said. them in a statement.
Shares of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., based in Stamford, Connecticut, fell less than 1% on Friday’s opening bell.
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