Vince McMahon was the CEO and Chairman of the Board at World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) for decades before “voluntarily” stepping down.
McMahon, who was a former pro wrestler before taking over the WWE business, confirmed in June 2022 that he was resigning from his post while the company investigated misconduct claims against him.
“I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the Special Committee, and I will do everything possible to support the investigation,” he said in a statement at the time. “I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are.”
Several hours later, McMahon opened SmackDown Live with great fanfare. “It is a privilege as always to stand before you here tonight, the WWE universe,” he said during the June 17, 2022, broadcast. “I’m here simply to remind you of the four words we just saw in what we call our WWE signature. Those four words are: then, now, forever, and the most important word is together. Welcome to SmackDown!”
Amid McMahon’s exit from the WWE executive suite, federal law enforcement officials have continued investigating the allegations. The former pro athlete has not yet been charged with a crime.
Nearly two years later, McMahon faced a second misconduct scandal when a former WWE employee accused him of sexual assault, trafficking and abuse in a January 2024 lawsuit. He denied all claims before resigning from WWE’s parent company, TKO Group.
Keep reading for a breakdown of McMahon’s misconduct scandal:
What Was Vince McMahon Accused of?
Days before McMahon stepped down from his WWE position, the Wall Street Journal reported that he paid a $3 million settlement to a former employee after an alleged affair. He has not publicly addressed the allegations.
In January 2024, former WWE staffer Janel Grant accused McMahon of sexual assault, trafficking and abuse in a lawsuit.
How Did Vince McMahon React to the Scandal?
McMahon left his position as CEO and Chairman of the board in June 2022, pledging in a statement to cooperate with the ongoing investigation and “accept the findings and outcome.” He ultimately returned as a board member six months later in January 2023, agreeing to reimburse WWE for any expenses pertaining to the investigation. According to an SEC statement the following August, McMahon has since paid approximately $17.4 million to cover the costs.
Regarding the 2024 lawsuit, McMahon vehemently denied all claims.
“This lawsuit is replete with lies, obscene made-up instances that never occurred, and a vindictive distortion of the truth. He will vigorously defend himself,” a spokesperson for McMahon told Us Weekly in a statement.
Who Replaced Vince McMahon as the CEO of WWE?
McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie McMahon, was appointed interim CEO and Chairwoman in her father’s absence.
“I love this company and am committed to working with the Independent Directors to strengthen our culture and our Company; it is extremely important to me that we have a safe and collaborative workplace,” Stephanie said in a statement at the time. “I have committed to doing everything in my power to help the Special Committee complete its work, including marshaling the cooperation of the entire company to assist in the completion of the investigation and to implement its findings.”
Is Vince McMahon Still Involved in WWE Operations?
Chief Creative Officer Triple H (real name Paul Levesque), who is married to Stephanie, revealed during an August 2023 press conference for WWE’s Summer Slam that Vince is not currently working with the WWE creative team.
“As far as contributions, I would just say this. The reason WWE is what it is … you could make an argument — a very valid one — that without Vince and his vision for this business, maybe it wouldn’t be here anymore,” Triple H said at the time. “There was some things at that time, back in the day, that were very popular … that just disappeared off the face of the planet. Vision of what he did changed the business, changed all of it for 50 years. Incredible run of success. No greater mind in the business.”
He continued: “In this point in time, if all of us didn’t look at moments in time for counsel from him on thoughts or ideas or if we had a question to go to him and ask, we’d be silly not to. It’s sitting next to somebody that knows more about this, or has forgotten more about this, than you’ll ever know, and to not utilize that in some aspect. But is he day-to-day? No. Is he in it all the time? No. If anybody has, he’s earned that right to be able to do that.”
Vince formally resigned from his position as executive chairman of the TKO Group, which is the parent company of WWE, in January 2024.
“Out of respect for the WWE Universe, the extraordinary TKO business and its board members and shareholders, partners and constituents, and all of the employees and Superstars who helped make WWE into the global leader it is today, I have decided to resign from my executive chairmanship and the TKO board of directors, effective immediately,” he said in a statement shared with Us. “I stand by my prior statement that Ms. Grant’s lawsuit is replete with lies, obscene made-up instances that never occurred, and is a vindictive distortion of the truth. I intend to vigorously defend myself against these baseless accusations, and look forward to clearing my name.”
Has Vince McMahon Cooperated With the Federal Investigation?
Several days before Triple H’s comments about the lack of Vince’s day-to-day involvement in the media brand, the SEC executed a search warrant and issued a subpoena to both Vince and the WWE. According to CNN, U.S. federal agents requested copies of certain documents. Vince has not addressed the warrant or subpoena.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).