Longtime WWE chairman and chief executive Vince McMahon stepped down from his posts in July amid allegations of sexual misconduct. At the same time, WWE has received “regulatory, investigative and enforcement inquiries, subpoenas or demands” around millions of dollars in payments related to the allegations.
WWE disclosed those inquiries in a security filing, revealing McMahon had made agreements to pay a total of $14.6 million to multiple women between 2006 and 2022. WWE said McMahon either already has or will pay all of those expenses using his own money. Still, those payments weren’t recorded in the company’s financial statements, so they’ll have to amend their records from 2019 onward.
News of McMahon’s retirement was a surprise to most people in the industry. The man had been in charge of WWE for 40 years since buying the business from his father in 1982. As the largest pro-wrestling brand in the world, WWE has partnerships with major streaming and corporate platforms, including Hulu, Fox Corp., and NBC Universal. McMahon’s departure could shake up the wrestling industry — or it could prove to make WWE even more lucrative.
Shares of WWE rose 8.4% on the first trading day after McMahon announced his retirement. Though they’ve dipped slightly, they’ve still remained higher than before his exit. Investors don’t always like change, but in this scenario, it may actually be welcome. McMahon has led WWE through its best years, shaping it into what it’s become today. Now that he’s gone, there are several potential options, from new leaders to new owners. It’s an intriguing time for investors.
WWE also shared revenue forecasts of $328 million for the second quarter. That would beat Wall Street expectations by more than $16 million. The entertainment company reported first-quarter revenue of $333.4 million, a quarterly record.
Of course, there may be a few adjustments after accounting for McMahon’s expenses. He’s reportedly made multiple hush money settlements over the past 16 years, including a secret $3 million settlement to a paralegal he allegedly had a sexual affair with and payments to several other women.
In the meantime, WWE has named McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie McMahon, co-CEO alongside current president Nick Khan. Stephanie will serve as chairwoman. Her husband, Paul Levesque, who wrestles as Triple H, will take over WWE’s creative operations.
This new leadership could prove to be a permanent shift, or it may just be preparing the company for a massive sale. Either way, we’re going to have plenty of interesting action coming up—both in and out of the ring.