MIAMI – Vince McMahon announced Friday he’s retiring as WWE’s chairman and CEO.
He released the following statement:
“As I approach 77 years old, I feel it’s time for me to retire as Chairman and CEO of WWE. Throughout the years, it’s been a privilege to help WWE bring you joy, inspire you, thrill you, surprise you, and always entertain you. I would like to thank my family for mightily contributing to our success, and I would also like to thank all of our past and present Superstars and employees for their dedication and passion for our brand. Most importantly, I would like to thank our fans for allowing us into your homes every week and being your choice of entertainment. I hold the deepest appreciation and admiration for our generations of fans all over the world who have liked, currently like, and sometimes even love our form of Sports Entertainment.”
According to a Wall Street Journal report, McMahon paid more than $12 million to four women to cover up “allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity.”
The women, all of whom were involved with WWE, signed agreements with McMahon that “prohibit them from discussing potential legal claims against or their relationships with the 76-year-old executive.”
The report of the hush money, which the Journal said was paid over 16 years, is the latest part of a corporate firestorm for McMahon.
Last month another report from the Journal said the company’s board was investigating McMahon for agreeing to pay a secret $3 million settlement to a former employee with whom he allegedly had an affair. That woman is among the four mentioned in the new report.
The longtime WWE boss had agreed to step back from his role as chairman and CEO while the investigation is ongoing.
“I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the special committee, and I will do everything possible to support the investigation,” McMahon said in a statement last month. “I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are.”
McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie, has been acting as interim CEO and chairwoman, though it’s unclear if she will take over permanently.
The company said last month that McMahon would continue to appear as his character during matches, but that is now also up in the air.
“I am extremely confident in the continued success of WWE, and I leave our company in the capable hands of an extraordinary group of Superstars, employees, and executives – in particular, both Chairwoman and Co-CEO Stephanie McMahon and Co-CEO Nick Khan,” he said in Friday’s statement. “As the majority shareholder, I will continue to support WWE in any way I can. My personal thanks to our community and business partners, shareholders, and Board of Directors for their guidance and support through the years. Then. Now. Forever. Together.”