World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) impresario Vince McMahon is retiring amid an investigation into alleged sexual harassment and misconduct involving the flamboyant showman, a close friend and supporter of Donald Trump.
In a brief statement from WWE, McMahon said he was retiring as the company’s chairman and chief executive but will remain its majority shareholder.
McMahon stepped down temporarily as CEO and chairman of WWE in mid-June during an investigation into alleged misconduct and amid reports in the Wall Street Journal that he had paid more than $US12 million ($A17 million) during the past 16 years to suppress allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity.
“At 77, time for me to retire. Thank you, WWE Universe. Then. Now. Forever. Together. #WWE #thankful,” he wrote on Twitter on Friday.
There was no mention of the investigation in statement from the company based in Stamford, Connecticut.
McMahon said his daughter, Stephanie, who was named interim CEO and chairman last month, will serve as chair and share CEO duties with Nick Khan, who joined the company in 2020.
‘WWE will continue’
“Our global audience can take comfort in knowing WWE will continue to entertain you with the same fervour, dedication, and passion as always,” he said, thanking WWE’s fans around the world.
McMahon first stepped aside from the top positions last month after the Journal reported he had agreed to pay $US3 million to a former paralegal who said he sexually harassed her on the job.
He was supposed to continue overseeing WWE’s creative content during the company’s internal investigation. But then the newspaper reported that McMahon had agreed to pay the significantly larger sum of $US12 million.
Four women – all formerly affiliated with WWE – signed agreements with McMahon that bar them from discussing their relationships with him, the Journal reported. McMahon has said he is co-operating with the company’s investigation.
McMahon has been the leader and most recognisable face at WWE for decades. When he bought what was then the World Wrestling Federation — a name that had to be changed after the World Wildlife Fund claimed the WWF logo was a trademark infringement – from his father in 1982, wrestling matches took place at small venues and appeared on local cable channels.
The organisation underwent a seismic transformation under McMahon with events such as WrestleMania, which draws millions of fervent viewers.
Revenue last year exceeded $US1 billion for the first time.
WWE stars have become crossover sensations, including Hulk Hogan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and John Cena.