WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon speaks during a press conference announcing the WWE Network at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas.
WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon is stepping down as the company’s board of directors investigates alleged executive misconduct, the company announced on Friday.
The announcement of the move and the board committee’s special investigation comes two days after the Wall Street Journal reported that WWE’s board was investigating McMahon for paying $3 million to a former employed to keep her quiet about an alleged affair between the two.
The report says the investigation also unearthed previous nondisclosure agreements with former WWE employees who alleged misconduct against McMahon and another executive, John Laurinaitis, who wrestled under the name Johnny Ace. The council’s investigation began in April, the WSJ reported.
“I have pledged my full cooperation with the Special Committee’s investigation, and I will do my best to support the investigation,” McMahon said in a news release Friday. “I am also committed to accepting the findings and results of the investigation, whatever they may be.”
McMahon will remain involved with creative content at the wrestling media company, according to the statement.
McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie McMahon, will take over as CEO and interim president. Stephanie McMahon said in May that she was stepping back from most of her WWE executive duties to spend more time with her family.
“I love this company and am committed to working with the independent directors to strengthen our culture and our business; it is extremely important to me that we have a safe and collaborative workplace,” Stephanie McMahon said in the statement. . “I am committed to doing everything in my power to help the special committee complete its work, including enlisting the cooperation of the entire company to help complete the investigation and bring implement its findings.”
The announcement did not mention whether Laurinaitis, the company’s head of talent relations, would also step down while the investigation unfolds. WWE did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment. In its statement, WWE said, “The Company and the Board of Directors do not expect to hear any further comment until the investigation is complete.”
Vince McMahon, 76, is married to Linda McMahon, a former wrestling company CEO who worked as the head of the Small Business Administration under then-President Donald Trump, a member of the Hall of Fame of the WWE.
While WWE is a publicly traded company, McMahon, a flamboyant executive who has regularly staged dramatic wrestling storylines on camera, is actually the controlling shareholder. He bought the company from his father 40 years ago and orchestrated its growth into a global arena brand that has media partnerships with Fox, Hulu and NBCUniversal’s Peacock, among others.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.