Vince McMahon Steps Back As WWE CEO Amid Internal Investigation
Vince McMahon is temporarily stepping down and will be replaced by his daughter, and former Chief Brand Officer, Stephanie during an internal investigation.
WWE and its board of directors announced that a special committee of the board is conducting an investigation into alleged misconduct by its Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon and John Laurinaitis, head of talent relations. McMahon will temporarily step down from his position. While the investigation also names Laurinaitis as a person of interest, there is no mention of him stepping away from his position at this time.
Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that WWE had launched the investigation, which centered around millions in hush-money payments to women that McMahon is said to have had an affair with. The allegations were brought on after the board was contacted by someone who knew an employee that had left the company this year and received three million dollars for her silence. According to the report, it also uncovered other payments and legal agreements with other women through the decades.
"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 Mr. McMahon in a statement.
In response, the Special Committee has appointed Stephanie McMahon to serve as interim CEO and interim chairwoman 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 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."
Back in May, Stephanie stepped down from her CBO position to handle personal and family matters. It had been speculated that her husband and former WWE executive Paul Levesque, aka Triple H, had dire health issues after suffering from heart failure back in September. WWE made no mention of Stephanie leaving or any public statement, and the reasons for her departure were debated.
Though WWE's stock is publicly traded, Vince McMahon effectively controls the company, WWE securities filings show. As of March he owns a majority of the company's Class B shares, giving him roughly 80% voting power.
Though Vince has stepped down for the moment, he still remains head of creative and will retain his role and responsibilities related to that content. Shortly after WWE announced McMahon stepping down as CEO, there was another press release that announced he will make a public appearance and address WWE fans tonight on Smackdown.
WWE and the Board do not expect to have further comments until the investigation is concluded.
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