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Investigation at WWE upends leadership; McMahon steps aside

WWE Vince McMahon
Vince McMahon stands at Republican state convention in Hartford, Conn., Friday, May 18, 2012. McMahon is voluntarily stepping back from his roles as CEO and chairman at WWE, Friday, June 17, 2022, as the sports entertainment company performs an investigation into alleged misconduct related to a relationship with a former employee.
(AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

Vince McMahon is stepping down as CEO and chairman of WWE during an investigation into alleged misconduct involving the longtime leader and public face of the organization.

McMahon will continue to oversee WWE’s creative content during the investigation, World Wrestling Entertainment said Friday. McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie, will serve as interim CEO and chairwoman, the organization said.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the board was investigating a $3 million settlement that McMahon paid to a departing female employee with whom he allegedly had a consensual affair.

“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,” McMahon said in a prepared statement Friday.

The employee, hired as a paralegal in 2019, has a separation agreement from January that prevents her from discussing her relationship with McMahon or disparaging him, the Journal reported.

The board’s investigation, which started in April, found other, older nondisclosure agreements involving claims by former female WWE employees of misconduct by McMahon and John Laurinaitis, the head of talent relations at WWE, the Journal reported.

Aside from the investigation into the alleged misconduct by McMahon and Laurinaitis, WWE said that the company and its special committee will work with an independent third-party to perform a comprehensive review of its compliance program, HR function and overall culture.

Shares of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., based in Stamford, Connecticut, slid 4% before the opening bell Friday.