World Wrestling Entertainment’s board of directors is investigating a secret $3 million payment the company’s CEO, Vince McMahon, agreed to pay to a former employee for an alleged affair, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Wednesday. .
The separation agreement, which was signed in January, is intended to prevent the now former employee from discussing her relationship with McMahon or making derogatory comments about her, according to the Journal. An email sent to WWE board members on March 30 says McMahon, 76, hired the former staffer, 41, with a salary of $100,000 and then gave him a increase of $200,000 after the alleged sexual relationship with her began.
The report, citing documents and the accounts of people familiar with the council’s investigation, says the council’s investigation began in April and uncovered other nondisclosure agreements over the years involving misconduct complaints. former employees against McMahon and WWE Talent Chief John Laurinaitis. reports.
The email sent to the board regarding the former WWE employee, who was hired as a paralegal in 2019, alleged that McMahon gave the woman to Laurinaitis “like a plaything.” The council is investigating the email’s allegations, the report said. WSJ reported that the board retained law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett to conduct the investigation and that payments from other nondisclosure agreements, aside from the one involving the former employee, amounted to millions of dollars.
An ESPN request for comment from WWE was not returned Wednesday night. The WSJ reported that a WWE spokesperson is fully cooperating with the board’s investigation and that the relationship between the paralegal and McMahon was consensual.
McMahon bought the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) from his father, Vincent J. McMahon, in 1982 and turned the company into a global wrestling powerhouse and media conglomerate that produced crossover stars like Hulk Hogan, The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and John Cena.
WWE is a publicly traded company, but McMahon still holds the majority of shareholder voting rights.