WWE and its Board of Directors announced that a special committee of the Board is conducting an investigation into the alleged misconduct of its Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon and John Laurinaitis, Head of Talent Relations. McMahon will be stepping down from office temporarily. While the inquiry also names Laurinaitis as a person of interest, there is no mention that he is resigning from his position at this time.
Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that WWE had launched the investigation, which focused on millions of dollars in hush money payments to women McMahon is said to have had affairs with. The allegations came after the board was contacted by someone who knew an employee who left the company earlier this year and was paid $3 million for her silence. According to the report, other payments and legal arrangements with other women have also been uncovered over the decades.
“I have pledged my full cooperation with the Special Committee’s inquiry and I will do everything I can to assist the inquiry. I have also pledged to accept the findings and findings of the investigation, whatever they are,” Mr. McMahon said in a statement.
In response, the Special Committee has appointed Stephanie McMahon as interim CEO and interim chair of WWE. “I love this company and am committed to working with the independent directors to strengthen our culture and our company,” Stephanie said in a statement. “It is extremely important to me that we have a safe and collaborative workplace. I am committed to doing everything in my power to help the Special Committee complete its work, including providing company-wide collaboration to assist in the completion of the investigation and to implement its findings.”
Back in May, Stephanie resigned from her CBO position to attend to personal and family matters. It has been speculated that her husband and former WWE manager Paul Levesque, aka Triple H, was dealing with dire health issues after suffering from heart failure in September. WWE made no mention of Stephanie’s departure or any public statement, and the reasons for her departure have been debated.
Although WWE stock is publicly traded, Vince McMahon effectively controls the company, WWE securities filings show. As of March, he owns and gives the majority of the company’s Class B shares about 80% voting rights.
Although Vince has stepped down for the time being, he remains the creative lead and retains his role and responsibility in relation to this content. Shortly after WWE announced McMahon’s departure as CEO, there was another press release announcing that he would be making a public appearance on tonight’s Smackdown and addressing WWE fans.
WWE and the Board do not expect further comment until the investigation is complete.
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