Report: Vince McMahon Investigated by WWE Board over $3M Settlement Payment

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 15, 2022

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 08:  WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon speaks at a news conference announcing the WWE Network at the 2014 International CES at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas on January 8, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The network will launch on February 24, 2014 as the first-ever 24/7 streaming network, offering both scheduled programs and video on demand. The USD 9.99 per month subscription will include access to all 12 live WWE pay-per-view events each year. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 10 and is expected to feature 3,200 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

WWE chairman Vince McMahon is under investigation by the company's board regarding a reported $3 million settlement he agreed to pay to a former employee with whom he allegedly had an affair, according to the Wall Street Journal's Joe Palazzolo and Ted Mann.

Per the WSJ report:

"The board’s investigation, which began in April, has unearthed other, older nondisclosure agreements involving claims by former female WWE employees of misconduct by Mr. McMahon and one of his top executives, John Laurinaitis, the head of talent relations at WWE, the people said. The Journal couldn’t determine how many previous agreements were being scrutinized."

A spokesman for WWE told Palazzolo and Mann the company "is cooperating fully with the board inquiry and that the relationship with the ex-paralegal was consensual."

Palazzolo and Mann reported members of WWE's board received anonymous emails detailing the $3 million payment, which was allegedly paid for by McMahon with his personal funds.

The author of the emails, who was a friend of the employee in question, said the woman was first hired and given a $100,000 salary. The friend said the woman's salary then rose to $200,000 after she started a sexual relationship with McMahon.

The emails also said the woman "was so scared so she quit after Vince McMahon and lawyer Jerry [McDevitt] paid her millions of dollars to shut up."

McDevitt told the Wall Street Journal the woman didn't level any allegations of harassment against McMahon or receive a lump sum of money from WWE when she left.

Financially, WWE's health has never been better. The company reported record-high revenues of $1.1 billion and an operating income of $259 million from its 2021 fiscal year. The revenue for the first quarter of 2022 was $333.4 million, its highest ever for a single quarter.

However, the Wall Street Journal report comes amid a period of relative uncertainty surrounding WWE.

The company released a significant number of wrestlers across 2021, and the departures have continued into 2022.

It doesn't appear to be a given, either, that another member of the McMahon family will run WWE whenever Vince, who turns 77 in August, steps down.

Shane McMahon is no longer employed with WWE. Stephanie McMahon, who became WWE's chief brand officer in 2013, announced in May she was taking a leave of absence. Her husband, retired star Triple H, underwent surgery following a "cardiac event" last September and has seen his backstage duties reportedly change.

This investigation of Vince McMahon could fuel more speculation about the long-term future of WWE.