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How Florida made WWE an essential business

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White House Hosts “Conversations With The Women Of America” Panel Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Orlando Mayor Jerry Demings gave us the broad strokes of how WWE is still allowed to produce live television three times a week under Florida’s statewide stay-at-home order.

You don’t need to be a poli-sci major to speculate about what was said in the “conversation” that led to WWE being deemed essential, a conversation which involved Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and dealt with a company led by the husband of a key fundraiser for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.

But what was the actual legal mechanism by which Florida made pro wrestling more essential than social distancing to flatten the curve of coronavirus transmission?

This memo from the state’s Division of Emergency Management dated Thurs., April 9 - one day before WWE headed back to their Performance Center in Orlando. And specifically this addition to the list of essential businesses in DeSantis’ original order:

“Employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience — including any athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team and any others necessary to facilitate including services supporting such production — only if the location is closed to the general public.”

ESPN reached out to the Governor’s office for clarification on why they decided sports and media with a national audience were critical, and were told “because they are critical to Florida’s economy.”

While WWE is the first beneficiary of this addendum, it might not be the only one. The wording here opens the door for AEW to resume operations in the state if they want to, and ESPN was also told “the memo does not specify specific sports, as long as the event location is closed to the general public.” It’s possible another league which has shown an interest in putting on empty arena shows - like UFC, or Major League Baseball - could take advantage of Florida’s expanded definition of essential.

For now, it’s cleared the way for WWE to continue according to Vince’s plan.