World Wrestling Entertainment’s board of directors is investigating longtime Chairman/CEO Vince McMahon over previously undisclosed settlement agreements with former employees. That includes a $3 million payout to an employee he allegedly was having an affair with, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
McMahon is the controlling shareholder of the public company’s Class B shares, which give it overwhelming voting rights. In addition, the board has various members of his family.
The board investigation began in April, the WSJ report said. The employee who received the $3 million settlement reportedly had an amicable relationship with McMahon, who used personal funds to pay out.
However, the Board’s investigation has uncovered other, older non-disclosure agreements involving claims by former female WWE employees against McMahon and one of his top managers, John Laurinaitis, WWE’s head of talent relations, the WSJ reported. It couldn’t put a number on the settlement census but said it was in the millions of dollars. The WSJ said the board believes all settlements came from McMahon’s personal funds, including the one settlement involving Laurinaitis.
New York law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is leading the investigation, the WSJ reported. As part of the investigation, the Company is also evaluating WWE’s compliance and human resources programs and corporate culture
In a letter to The Wall Street Journal, McMahon’s attorney, Jerry McDevitt, claimed that the woman who received the $3 million settlement was a former paralegal and had not alleged harassment against McMahon.
WWE is a wrestling-entertainment powerhouse that posted record sales of $1.1 billion last year. It has a five-year exclusive agreement with NBCUniversal’s streaming platform Peacock worth $1 billion, as well as licensing agreements with NBCUniversal and Fox. It also has an international agreement with Disney Plus Hotstar in Indonesia.
Fox will broadcast the WWE Friday Night SmackDown while Hulu will stream the WWE Monday Night Raw, which agreement expires this year.