WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon is “voluntarily” stepping away from some of his responsibilities at the company amid an investigation into alleged misconduct, KTLA sister station WGHP reported.
The WWE’s board of directors announced the news Friday, confirming an investigation into both McMahon and John Laurinaitis, WWE’s head of talent relations. Amid the probe, McMahon immediately will step back from his duties as chairman and CEO, the press release said. His daughter, Stephanie McMahon, will serve as the interim CEO and chairwoman.
Vince McMahon, however, will “retain his role and responsibilities related to WWE’s creative content,” according to a press release.
The WWE’s announcement comes amid allegations that McMahon agreed to pay $3 million in hush money to a former employee with whom he had an affair, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing documentation and sources “familiar with the board inquiry.” McMahon used his own money, which was to be paid to the employee in increments over a five-year period, according to the report.
The WWE’s board first learned of these allegations in late March, via an anonymous series of emails sent by a friend of the former employee, the Journal reported. The email also alleged that McMahon “gave” the woman to Laurinaitis “like a toy,” according to the outlet.
A subsequent investigation allegedly unearthed multiple nondisclosure agreements from former employees who accused McMahon and Laurinaitis of misconduct, sources told the Journal.
McMahan, in a statement included with Friday’s press release, said he would cooperate with the board’s investigation.
“I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the Special Committee, and I will do everything possible to support the investigation. I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are,” said McMahon.
Stephanie McMahon pledged to help the committee, as well.
“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,” she said, in part, in a statement included with the release.
Independent legal counsel will also be brought in to assist with an independent review.