NEW YORK (AP) — The longtime World Wrestling Entertainment impresario Vince McMahon agreed to pay more than $12 million over the past 16 years to suppress allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The amount is significantly larger than what was previously known.
Four women — all formerly affiliated with WWE — signed agreements with McMahon, 76, that bar them from discussing their relationships with him, the Journal reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the deals and documents it reviewed.
McMahon stepped down as CEO and chairman of WWE in mid-June during an an investigation into the alleged misconduct and the Journal reported at the time that he had agreed to pay $3 million to a former paralegal who said he sexually harassed her on the job.
McMahon will continue to oversee WWE’s creative content during the investigation.
“McMahon allegedly paid out $7.5 million to the former wrestler, who claimed that McMahon coerced her into giving him oral sex, demoted her and then decided not to renew her contract in 2005 after she resisted further sexual encounters with him…” – ESPN, Jul 8, 2022
WWE named McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie, interim CEO and chairwoman during the investigation into his alleged misconduct though he continued to oversee the company’s creative side. The organization stated at the time that it will have no further comment until the investigation is over.
McMahon has been the leader and most recognizable face at WWE for decades. When he purchased what was then the World Wrestling Federation, from his father in 1982, wrestling matches took place at small venues and appeared on local cable channels.
WWE matches are now held in professional sports stadiums and the organization has a sizeable overseas following. It has a broadcast partnership with the Saudi media company MBC Group.
The organization underwent a seismic transformation under McMahon with events like WrestleMania, a premium live production that draws millions of fervent viewers.
Revenue last year exceeded $1 billion for the first time and the company has television deals with Fox and NBCUniversal. Last month it announced a multiyear expansion of its original programming partnership with A&E.
WWE stars have become crossover sensations, including Hulk Hogan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and John Cena.
Shares of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., based in Stamford, Connecticut, dropped 2% on Friday.