Vince McMahon retires as WWE chief amid probes into alleged misconduct of pro wrestling boss

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Vince McMahon attends a press conference at MetLife Stadium on February 16, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Michael N. Todaro | Getty Images

World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon announced Friday that he was fully retiring after decades of leading the company founded by his father, a move that comes after WWE’s board said in June it was investigating allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported that the married McMahon had paid more than $12 million to four women, all of who had been affiliated with the WWE, over the past 16 years to cover up claims of sexual misconduct and infidelity.

McMahon is by far the best-known promoter of professional wrestling in the United States, following in the footsteps of his father Vince McMahon Sr., and his grandfather Jess McMahon, who long were leading promoters of wrestling shows in the northeast United States.

McMahon in June had said he was stepping back from his role as CEO and chairman of Stamford, Connecticut-based WWE, while the board’s probe proceeded, installing his daughter Stephanie McMahon as interim CEO.

But he said at the time that he would retain control over creative content at the company, where he remains the majority shareholder, with about 32% of its stock.

On Friday, McMahon announced that Stephanie and WWE President Nick Khan were taking over as co-CEOs, and that his daughter would become chairman of the company. McMahon also will no longer have any role involving creative content.

“As I approach 77 years old, I feel it’s time for me to retire as Chairman and CEO of WWE,” McMahon said in a statement.

“I would like to thank my family for mightily contributing to our success, and I would also like to thank all of our past and present Superstars and employees for their dedication and passion for our brand,” he said.

“Most importantly, I would like to thank our fans for allowing us into your homes every week and being your choice of entertainment.”

McMahon’s wife Linda, a former WWE CEO herself, served as head of the Small Business Administration under then-President Donald Trump from 2017 through 2019.

Trump is a WWE Hall of Fame inductee. Before becoming president, he participated in wrestling shows put on by the company.

In 2007, at WrestleMania 23 in Detroit, Trump and McMahon picked a wrestler apiece to “fight” on their behalf in what was dubbed “The Battle of the Billionaires.”

After Trump’s wrestler, Bobby Lashley, bested McMahon’s proxy, Umaga, Trump used electric clippers to shave McMahon’s head.

On the heels of Vince McMahon’s retirement announcement, WWE’s stock price did not markedly change in after-hours trading, which saw a low volume of shares changing hands.

At the close of regular trading Friday, WWE had a market capitalization of about $4.9 billion.

– Additional reporting by CNBC’s Alex Sherman



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