World Wrestling Entertainment said that its former CEO, Vince McMahon, has paid out $14.6 million in hush money to several women who have alleged sexual misconduct between the years 2006 and 2022.
In an SEC filing, the company said that the $14.6 million was classified as “unrecorded expenses” and that it will revise previous financial statements to reflect the expenditures.
McMahon on Friday retired as chairman and CEO of WWE, effective immediately.
The $14.6 million sum is $2.6 million more than was previously reported by The Wall Street Journal, which first revealed the existence of the hush money payments.
In June, The Wall Street Journal first reported that WWE’s board was investigating McMahon after they received an anonymous tip via email that he had paid a $3 million hush money settlement to a former employee with whom he had an affair.
The email said that he had hired the woman as a paralegal to a $100,000 salary, and doubled it after the affair began. Then, the email said, McMahon “gave her like a toy” to longtime WWE executive John Laurinaitis.
The Wall Street Journal later reported that it had been discovered that McMahon had paid a total of $12 million, over the course of at least 16 years, to four different women with whom he had sexual relationships.
One of the women, a former wrestler, had alleged in 2018 that years back McMahon had coerced her into oral sex. McMahon had been accused of demoting the wrestler when she ended the relationship, and not renewing her contract when it came up.
“All payments underlying the Unrecorded Expenses were or will be paid by Vince McMahon personally,” WWE said in the filing.
The company added that it “has also received, and may receive in the future, regulatory, investigative and enforcement inquiries, subpoenas or demands arising from, related to, or in connection with these matters.”
WWE has launched its own internal investigation into the matter. In its SEC filing, it said that the probe will likely conclude that its “internal control over financial reporting was not effective as a result of one or more material weaknesses.”
McMahon is WWE’s largest shareholder. He owns a 32% stake in the company.
WWE’s stock price rose more than 8% on Monday to $71.81.
In a statement released on Friday, McMahon announced that his daughter, Stephanie McMahon, will be chairwoman and co-CEO. The other co-CEO is Nick Khan, who joined WWE as president from CAA in 2020.
“As I approach 77 years old, I feel it’s time for me to retire as Chairman and CEO of WWE. Throughout the years, it’s been a privilege to help WWE bring you joy, inspire you, thrill you, surprise you, and always entertain you,” McMahon said in a statement.
“I would like to thank my family for mightily contributing to our success, and I would also like to thank all of our past and present Superstars and employees for their dedication and passion for our brand.
“Most importantly, I would like to thank our fans for allowing us into your homes every week and being your choice of entertainment. I hold the deepest appreciation and admiration for our generations of fans all over the world who have liked, currently like, and sometimes even love our form of Sports Entertainment.”
Stephanie McMahon had taken over as interim CEO as her father had stepped away from the role during the board’s investigation.
Vince McMahon had remained in charge of WWE’s creative, and it is not immediately clear what will happen in that direction.
Ryan Glasspiegel contributed reporting.