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It can be said Vince McMahon has no shame as the WWE chairman made a rare television appearance to open Friday Night SmackDown.
The move came amid a report from Joe Palazzolo and Ted Mann of the Wall Street Journal that McMahon is being investigated by WWE’s board of directors over an alleged $3 million hush pact he had with a former company employee that he had an affair with.
McMahon’s appearance lasted only about three minutes from the time his music hit until he left the ring. He only said the company mantra of “Then. Now. Forever. Together” but even showing his face did lead to some questions.
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Vince showing up on #Smackdown to bump the rating and say nothing of real importance about his current circumstances is definitely a Vince McMahon move.
WWE announced Friday that McMahon voluntarily stepped down as CEO and chairman of the board while the investigation is ongoing but will retain his role in creative content. Stephanie McMahon is stepping in as interim CEO and chairwoman for the time being.
Stephanie announced May 19 she was taking a leave of absence from her role as Chief Brand Officer “to focus on my family.”
According to the Wall Street Journal report, a person who tipped off the board to McMahon’s relationship with the woman, who was hired by WWE as a paralegal in 2019, said he “gave her like a toy” to general manager of talent relations, John Laurinaitis.
The person said in an email her friend was “so scared so she quit after Vince McMahon and lawyer Jerry [McDevitt] paid her millions of dollars to shut up.”
The settlement, which prevents the woman from speaking about her relationship with McMahon or disparaging him, called for an initial payment of $1 million and an additional $2 million to be paid out over a five-year period.
McDevitt said the settlement was used from McMahon’s personal funds, and the former employee has not made any claims of sexual harassment.
McMahon purchased WWE from his father, Vince McMahon Sr., in 1982.