Vince McMahon voluntarily stepped down as Chairman and CEO of WWE on Friday amid allegations of misconduct and an ongoing investigation by the company, the WWE announced in a statement.
“I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the Special Committee, and I will do everything possible to support the investigation,” McMahon said in the statement. “I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are.”
His daughter, Stephanie McMahon, was named interim CEO and interim Chairwoman.
“I love this company and am committed to working with the Independent Directors to strengthen our culture and our Company; it is extremely important to me that we have a safe and collaborative workplace,” Stephanie McMahon said in the statement. “I have committed to doing everything in my power to help the Special Committee complete its work, including marshaling the cooperation of the entire company to assist in the completion of the investigation and to implement its findings.”
The WWE board of directors have been investigating Vince since April when they discovered he paid $3 million to cover up an affair with a former employee, according to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal. McMahon used his own money to pay off the former employee with an upfront payment of $1 million and another $2 million to be paid out over five years.
The Wall Street Journal produced anonymous emails obtained by the board’s investigative committee detailing a relationship between McMahon and a former employee. When the relationship turned sexual, McMahon allegedly increased her salary as a paralegal from $100,000 to $200,000 and “gave her like a toy” to WWE executive John Laurinaitis:
“My friend was so scared so she quit after Vince McMahon and lawyer Jerry paid her millions of dollars to shut up,” the initial email to the board said, referring to Mr. McMahon’s longtime lawyer, Mr. [Jerry] McDevitt, who negotiated the deal, according to people familiar with the board inquiry.
McMahon is cooperating with the inquiry, WWE said, and will “retain his role and responsibilities related to WWE’s creative content during this period.” He is also scheduled to appear on “SmackDown” on Friday.
McMahon bought the company, then called the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), from his father in 1982 and helped build it into what it is today.