Vince McMahon attends a news conference at MetLife Stadium on February 16, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Michael N Todaro | Getty Images
World Wrestling Entertainment’s board of directors is investigating a $3 million hush-money deal that CEO Vince McMahon paid to a woman over an alleged affair, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing documents and people familiar with the matter.
The agreement, struck in January, is designed to prevent the woman, who worked as a paralegal for the company, from speaking out about her relationship with McMahon or making critical comments about the chief executive, the Journal added.
A WWE spokesman told the newspaper that the company was cooperating with the board’s investigation and that the relationship between McMahon and the woman was amicable.
McMahon, 76, is married to Linda McMahon, who served as CEO of WWE and head of Small Business Administration in the administration of former President Donald Trump, who is a WWE Hall of Famer.
The report says the board’s investigation, which began in April, also uncovered confidentiality pacts related to misconduct claims made by other women who had worked at WWE. Those agreements involved McMahon and WWE talent manager John Laurinaitis, who wrestled under the moniker Johnny Ace, the Journal added.
WWE did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.
The board hired Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, a New York-based law firm, to conduct the investigation, a source told the journal. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.
McMahon’s attorney, Jerry McDevitt, was not immediately available for comment.
McDevitt told the Journal that the former employee made no claims of harassment against McMahon. He also said WWE didn’t pay her any money, the newspaper said.
The news comes at a pivotal time for the wrestling entertainment company. In May, CEO Stephanie McMahon, daughter of Vince and Linda McMahon, stepped down from most of her responsibilities at the company. “WWE is a lifelong legacy for me and I look forward to returning to the company I love after taking this time to focus on my family.” She tweeted at the time.
WWE has also been the subject of speculation about a possible sale and its media rights. It has deals with Fox, USA Network, Hulu, and NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service. The Hulu deal expires this year.
The company is publicly traded, but McMahon owns a majority of WWE voting shares. In the early 1980s, he took over the company from his father, also named Vince McMahon. Under the younger McMahon’s supervision, WWE, then known as the World Wrestling Federation, grew into a global juggernaut. In the decades since, the company has spawned superstars like Hulk Hogan, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Dave Bautista.
Read the full Wall Street Journal report here.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.
– CNBC’s Candice Choi contributed to this report.