Vince McMahon has resigned from his position as govt chairman of TKO, the mum or dad firm of WWE, following disturbing allegations of sexual assault, trafficking and bodily abuse.
The allegations got here to mild in a lawsuit filed by a former WWE staffer, Janel Grant, who labored on the headquarters of the wrestling behemoth McMahon based.
McMahon has denied the allegations, and stated he’s ready to defend himself in courtroom. However, in an announcement Friday, McMahon stated that he has resigned.
“Out of respect for the WWE Universe, the extraordinary TKO enterprise and its board members and shareholders, companions and constituents, and all the workers and Superstars who helped make WWE into the worldwide chief it’s immediately, I’ve determined to resign from my govt chairmanship and the TKO board of administrators, efficient instantly,” McMahon stated in an announcement.
Experiences that McMahon had paid out settlements to a number of girls whereas serving as WWE’s CEO and chairman have been circulating since at the least 2022, however the lawsuit, filed by Grant Thursday, sheds new mild on the extent of McMahon’s alleged misconduct.
Within the lawsuit, Grant alleged that McMahon dangled a job supply at WWE – and later promotions – in alternate for intercourse. Grant’s lawsuit additionally alleges that McMahon trafficked her to different males inside and outdoors the corporate, together with John Laurinaitus, who labored within the firm’s expertise relations division and can also be named as a defendant within the go well with.
McMahon engaged in acts of “excessive cruelty and degradation” towards Grant throughout her time at WWE, the lawsuit alleged.
TKO stays silent on allegations
TKO Group Holdings has not commented on the allegations. In an e mail to workers, obtained by CNN, WWE president Nick Khan stated merely that McMahon tendered his resignation from his govt chairman and board member positions.
“He’ll not have a job with TKO Group Holdings or WWE,” Khan wrote in his e mail.
On Thursday, after Grant’s allegations have been made public in a lawsuit, the corporate stated, “McMahon doesn’t management TKO or oversee day-to-day operations at WWE.”
McMahon’s second resignation
McMahon’s exit marks one other turning level for the wrestling leisure firm he created greater than 40 years in the past.
He initially retired from his position as CEO and chairman of WWE in July 2022 amid allegations of sexual misconduct. On the time, WWE introduced a particular committee would examine McMahon.
Nonetheless, his retirement didn’t final lengthy. The investigation was closed in November 2022 and McMahon returned to WWE’s board in January 2023.
Grant’s lawsuit raises questions in regards to the tradition at WWE, which she claims actively labored to hide McMahon’s wrongdoing. She alleged that the particular committee assigned to research McMahon by no means interviewed her or requested any paperwork, regardless of Grant’s alleged willingness to cooperate.
McMahon had served on the board of TKO, which was formally fashioned in September when WWE merged with its competitor, UFC, owned by Hollywood power-broker Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor Group. The deal valued the brand new firm at over US$21 billion, with WWE shareholders proudly owning 49 per cent of the mixed firm. McMahon was WWE’s largest shareholder.
One disturbing incident within the lawsuit detailed an alleged sexual assault amongst Grant, McMahon and Laurinaitis that occurred at WWE’s headquarters in 2021. The 2 males allegedly pulled Grant behind a locked door, forcibly restraining her. As she begged them to cease, one of many males allegedly stated to her, “No means sure.”
In an announcement to CNN on Thursday, Grant’s legal professional, Ann Callis, stated the lawsuit sought to “maintain accountable two WWE executives who sexually assaulted and trafficked Plaintiff Janel Grant, in addition to the group that facilitated or turned a blind eye to the abuse after which swept it underneath the rug.”
Makes an attempt by CNN to succeed in Laurinaitis beforehand didn’t yield a response.
New enterprise companions
McMahon’s exit comes as WWE inked a number of profitable enterprise partnerships in latest days.
This week, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a former WWE wrestler himself, introduced he would be part of TKO’s board of administrators.
McMahon touted the partnership in an announcement on Tuesday. “Only a few individuals on the planet perceive the convergence of sports activities, leisure, media, and enterprise like Rock,” he stated.
WWE can pay Johnson US$30 million in inventory awards to advertise the model as a part of the deal.
Netflix additionally not too long ago introduced it might turn out to be the unique house of “WWE Uncooked,” beginning in January 2025. Based on a submitting from TKO, the 10-year deal is valued at greater than $5 billion.
Neither Netflix nor representatives for Johnson responded to CNN’s request for remark this week.
This story has been up to date with further developments and context.