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Report: WWE Board looking into hush money Vince McMahon allegedly paid to ex-employee

WrestleMania 29 Press Conference Photo by Eugene Gologursky/WireImage

A Wall Street Journal report published this afternoon (June 15) claims the WWE board of directors is investigating a $3 million settlement long-time Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon paid to a now ex-employee with whom he’d had an affair. Joe Palazzolo and Ted Mann’s story is based on “documents and people familiar with the board inquiry.”

The primary focus of the board’s investigation is a Jan. 2022 agreement with a woman who was hired in 2019 as a paralegal. It bars her from discussing her relationship with Mr. McMahon or disparaging him. The settlement came to light via anonymous emails sent to the board by someone claiming to be a friend of the woman who received the $3 million payout. The first email, sent in March of this year, claims the 76 year old McMahon hired the 41 year old woman at a salary of $100,000 but increased it to $200,000 after they began a sexual relationship. It also alleges McMahon “gave her like a toy” to head of talent relations John Laurinaitis. The Journal’s sources say the woman worked in WWE’s legal department until 2021 when she was made an assistant to Laurinaitis.

What’s more, the report says the board has unearthed an undetermined number of additional past nondisclosure agreements with former female WWE employees who alleged misconduct by McMahon and Laurinaitis. The eight independent members of the board (excluding Vince, his daughter Stephanie, her husband Paul “Triple H” Levesque, and WWE President Nick Khan) have retained outside counsel to run the investigation. That law firm, New York-based Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett, is still collecting information about the other NDAs. But the Journal’s sources say the probe has determined the payments totaled in the millions of dollars. It also reports the investigation is “assessing WWE’s compliance and human-resources programs and company culture.”

A WWE spokesman said the company is cooperating fully with the board inquiry and that McMahon’s relationship with the ex-paralegal was consensual. The spokesman added the company takes the allegations seriously and is dealing with them appropriately.

McMahon and Laurinaitis didn’t respond directly to requests to comment, but McMahon’s attorney Jerry McDevitt wrote to WSJ. The man who’s represented Vince through numerous legal battles over the years told the paper the former paralegal hasn’t claimed his client harassed her, and that “WWE did not pay any monies” to her “on her departure.”

More to come, certainly.

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