According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, WWE board members are investigating a $3 million settlement that Vince McMahon agreed to pay a former employee he allegedly had an affair with.
The former employee was hired as a paralegal in 2019 and signed a separation agreement in January 2022, barring her from discussing the relationship with Vince McMahon or disparaging him.
The board’s investigation reportedly began in April. They’re now looking into other nondisclosure agreements signed by former female WWE employees who filed misconduct claims about McMahon and WWE’s head of talent relations, John Laurinaitis.
Discovery of the $3 million agreement occurred when board members reportedly received anonymous emails from an individual claiming to be a friend of the former WWE employee.
The first email received on March 30 alleges that McMahon hired her friend as a paralegal at a $100,000 a year salary but was bumped up to $200,000 when the sexual relationship with McMahon began.
The email also alleged that McMahon “gave her like a toy” to Laurinaitis, as she was moved from the legal department to becoming Laurinaitis’s assistant last year. It’s stated in the email. “my friend was so scared, so she quit after Vince McMahon and lawyer Jerry [McDevitt] paid her millions of dollars to shut up.”
This turn of events is the biggest threat to Vince McMahon’s power since the steroid trial brought by the federal government in the early 90s. McMahon has always had a scapegoat or a fall guy to take the brunt of the heat in controversial situations.
John Laurinaitis, in all likelihood, will be that person this time. He’s never been well-liked in wrestling circles. A resignation will probably occur sooner or later. He’s also married to the mother of Brie Bella and Nikki Bella.
As it pertains to Vince McMahon, news of this sort is not surprising as he’s had multiple allegations against him over the years for sexual misconduct. In a 1998 TV Guide interview, Vince also admitted that he cheated on his wife, Linda McMahon.
The cheating aspect might not be an issue for McMahon and Laurinaitis. Some couples like Will and Jada have different rules, so one never knows.
Sexual coercion is the underlying theme of this story. It is illegal if the employer holds money over an employee’s head in exchange for sexual favors. However, nothing has been proven, and there are still a lot of questions to be answered.
Many are wondering if Vince McMahon’s days in WWE are numbered. In 2019, McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook was fired after engaging in a relationship with an employee. It was a policy violation with no signs of any wrongdoing.
While WWE’s board could fire Vince McMahon as CEO, it will be hard to do since he owns most of the company’s shares. Even if he’s fired or resigns, he’s still making millions of dollars due to his ownership.
Eastbrook was removed as CEO for less than what McMahon had allegedly done. However, Eastbrook doesn’t own the company he worked for, and McDonald’s is one of the biggest restaurant chains in the world with a wholesome family image. WWE is small potatoes in comparison to the golden arches.
Famous people in all forms of sport, commerce, and entertainment have lost their jobs and had irreparable harm done to their careers solely on allegations. However, pro wrestling is considered the bastard of the entertainment industry, and as a result, WWE gets away with more than most.
WWE has often used its lower station to escape several controversies unscathed that would have rocked other sports leagues and movie studios. Vince could get another pass, or all the chickens could come home to roost.
Could these allegations be why Stephanie McMahon took an unexpected leave of absence from WWE last month to “focus on family?” The company never sent out a press release and has already filled Stephanie’s prior position of chief brand officer.
WWE executives publicly badmouthed Stephanie following her release. This only happens if Vince McMahon approves it. Does this mean there is trouble in the McMahon family? After all, Stephanie McMahon is still on the WWE board.
WrestleVotes, a noted backstage source, made an interesting tweet that speaks volumes on the matter.
No matter what may or may not happen to Vince McMahon’s position in WWE going forward, the news will probably get worse before it gets better. Especially these days, when women are more empowered than ever in various social settings.