WWE’s Vince McMahon paid out over $12M in hush money

The payments were made to four women formerly affiliated with Stamford-based WWE who signed agreements with McMahon that barred them from discussing possible legal claims against McMahon or their relationships with him, according to the Journal, which cited unnamed people familiar with the deals and related documents.

WWE declined to comment Friday on the new allegations against McMahon. At the same time, it referred back to a June 17 statement that confirmed the boards investigation of McMahon. Last months statement said that the company and the board do not expect to have further comment until the investigation is concluded.

A message left for McMahons attorney, Jerry McDevitt, was not immediately returned.

The previously unreported settlements include a $7.5 million deal with a former wrestler who accused McMahon of coercing her into giving him oral sex, then demoting her, and finally, deciding against renewing her contract in 2005 after she resisted additional sexual encounters, according to Journal sources familiar with the matter. The wrestler and her attorney approached McMahon in 2018 and negotiated the payment in exchange for her silence, the sources said.

Another previously unreported deal involved a WWE contractor who provided to the company unsolicited nude photos of McMahon she said she received from him and also alleged that he had sexually harassed her on the job, according to Journal sources familiar with her 2008 nondisclosure agreement. They said McMahon agreed to pay her about $1 million.

There was also a 2006 agreement in which a former manager who had worked 10 years for McMahon before he allegedly began a sexual relationship with her was paid $1 million to stay quiet about the affair, according to Journal sources familiar with that deal.

Last month, the Journal first reported about WWEs board investigating a purported $3 million hush agreement [1]reached in January between McMahon and a former WWE paralegal with whom he allegedly had an affair.

The board is also investigating allegations that WWEs head of talent relations, John Laurinaitis, had a sexual relationship with the same former paralegal and examining a $1.5 million nondisclosure agreement reached in 2012 with an employee related to misconduct allegations against Laurinaitis, according to the Journal.

Two days after last months WSJ report was published, WWE confirmed the boards investigation of McMahon and Laurinaitis for alleged misconduct and that McMahon had voluntarily stepped back from his roles as CEO and chairman until the probe was completed. WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon, who is McMahons daughter and had announced in May a leave of absence[2], has taken over as interim CEO and chairwoman.

Vince McMahon, 76, is married to Linda McMahon. She formerly served as WWEs CEO, then ran twice unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate, and later served as Small Business Administration administrator during President Donald Trumps administration.

The McMahons have played a crucial role in WWEs growth in the past few decades into a global force in sports entertainment. WWEs revenues in 2021 totaled a company-record of about $1 billion, with millions of fans around the world watching events such as the annual WrestleMania and the weekly shows Raw and SmackDown.

In addition to serving as chairman of our Board of Directors and chief executive officer, Mr. McMahon leads the creative team that develops the storylines and the characters for our programming (including our television, WWE Network and other programming) and live events, WWE said in its annual report for 2021. The loss of Mr. McMahon due to unexpected retirement, disability, death or other unexpected termination for any reason could have a material adverse effect on our ability to create popular characters and creative storylines or could otherwise adversely affect our operating results.

pschott@stamfordadvocate.com; twitter: @paulschott


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