The scene on the New York Inventory Change on Tuesday gave the impression to be a contented one: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stood shoulder-to-shoulder with World Wrestling Leisure (WWE) co-founder Vince McMahon. The magnate and the motion star had been all smiles as he rang the trade’s opening bell, a gesture supposed to rejoice his transfer to join the board of the WWE’s guardian firm, TKO Group Holdings. Only a few days later, the make-up of TKO’s board would change once more, however this time, McMahon was presumably much less jolly.
The 78-year-old abruptly resigned as the manager chairman of the board of administrators on Friday after a former worker accused McMahon of intercourse trafficking, rape, and office harassment.
McMahon’s assertion mentioned he was leaving the board “out of respect” for WWE and TKO Group.
The allegations, which had been made as a part of a lawsuit introduced by Janel Grant in Connecticut’s US District Court docket, aren’t the primary time McMahon has confronted high-profile claims of abuse. In 2022, McMahon temporarily resigned from the position he then held with the WWE following a Wall Street Journal report detailing thousands and thousands in so-called “hush cash” allegedly paid out to “preserve secret allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity.” A subsequent investigation by the WWE’s board “discovered that over 16 years he had spent $14.6 million in funds to ladies who had accused him of sexual misconduct,” the New York Times reports; a second inner investigation revealed an extra $5 million paid to 2 ladies. McMahon, for his half, denied that any interactions he had had been nonconsensual.
McMahon was additionally accused of sexually assaulting a Florida tanning salon worker in 2006. He was arrested by Boca Raton police and charged with sexual battery, however prosecutors declined to maneuver ahead with the case, the Daily Beast reported in 2018.
Regardless of the a number of scandals, McMahon—who owned the majority of the WWE’s shares—returned to the corporate in 2023, the place he was seemingly re-embraced by Johnson and others, together with influential Hollywood determine Ari Emanuel. Emanuel’s firm, Endeavor, merged with the WWE in 2023; the brand new guardian group, generally known as TKO, named McMahon its government chairman.
However that modified on Friday. In accordance to the WSJ, which was the primary to report on Thursday’s lawsuit, Grant accused McMahon of a number of 2021 assaults, mentioned he coerced her into relations with different firm executives, and alleged that he shared revealing photographs and movies of Grant with different staffers, amongst different claims. The total submitting, which particulars Grant’s claims in graphic element, is available online.
The timing for the go well with couldn’t have been worse for TKO, which named Johnson to its board Tuesday. “I’m very motivated to assist proceed to globally increase our TKO, WWE, and UFC companies because the worldwide leaders in sports activities and leisure,” Johnson mentioned, name-checking two McMahon-affiliated companies in a press release reported by ESPN. The identical day, the corporate introduced a landmark deal with Netflix by which the WWE’s flagship present, Uncooked, would depart linear tv for the streaming big.
Each strikes resulted in glowing feedback from of us like Johnson’s fellow wrestler-turned-actor John Cena, who informed Selection that he “couldn’t be happier” for McMahon’s firms.
“WWE’s all the time my household,” Cena mentioned of the previously McMahon-led org this week. “I’ll all the time be there in any capability they’ll have me.”
Cena, I ought to word, has been a longtime supporter of McMahon’s. He addressed the sooner claims in opposition to McMahon in a 2023 interview with the Associated Press, saying then, “I really like Vince McMahon. He’s the whole lot you would need in an awesome pal, enterprise companion, father, mentor. I really like the person.” When requested in regards to the allegations in opposition to McMahon, Cena replied, “Whenever you love any person, you are taking them as imperfectly excellent as they’re. All of us make errors, all of us have poor choices.”
It’s unclear if Cena continues to carry that view, and a request for remark was not responded to as of publication time. Nonetheless, by Friday, TKO began to distance itself from its government chair.
“Mr. McMahon doesn’t management TKO nor does he oversee the day-to-day operations of WWE,” the corporate mentioned in a press release. “Whereas this matter predates our TKO government crew’s tenure on the firm, we take Ms. Grant’s horrific allegations very severely and are addressing this matter internally.”
On Friday, TKO staffers had been knowledgeable through electronic mail that McMahon had left his firm as soon as extra. “He’ll not have a job with TKO Group Holdings or WWE,” TKO president Nick Khan mentioned in a memo considered by the NYT.