A couple weeks ago, WWE revealed that they are restating past financial statements due to “certain unrecorded expenses” made by ex-CEO Vince McMahon. These expenses totaled approximately 14.6 million dollars.
Earlier this week, WWE uncovered two more of these payments made by McMahon. The payments occurred in 2007 and 2009, combining for a total of five million additional dollars.
Many fans and analysts assumed this money was related to McMahon’s alleged hush money payments that are under investigation by a special committee of the WWE Board of Directors. But an interesting note in WWE’s SEC filing seemed to contradict that idea:
“Since that time, the Company has determined that two additional payments totaling $5.0 million, unrelated to the allegations that led to the Special Committee investigation, that Mr. McMahon made in 2007 and 2009 should have been recorded in the Company’s consolidated financial statements.”
If these two payments are “unrelated to the allegations” under investigation by the special committee, then what could they be related to?
A new report from Wrestlenomics’ Brandon Thurston concludes that “it seems more likely it’s connected to Donald Trump.”
Looking through past IRS filings, Thurston points out the following:
“The additional $5.0 million WWE found in payments made by Vince McMahon in 2007 and 2009, and which should’ve counted as company expenses, match the amount and years of payments WWE made to the Trump Foundation...”
“...WWE was by far the biggest contributor to the Trump Foundation in 2007 and 2009, giving the organization $4 million and $1 million in those years, respectively, and in round numbers — which adds up to match the $5.0 million mentioned in the new WWE filing. Those were also years when the future U.S. president made rare appearances on WWE television programs.”
“Despite the IRS filings listing WWE as the contributors to the Foundation in those years, a WWE spokesperson in October 2012 said the money came directly from Vince McMahon, as opposed to the company, or both Vince and Linda...Later, in 2016, a WWE spokesperson denied the Foundation contributions served as Trump’s appearance fees and that ‘WWE paid Donald Trump appearance fees separately.’ But this time WWE said both McMahons personally made the contributions to the Foundation.”
If Trump was paid through his charity organization for his WrestleMania-related appearances in 2007 and Raw appearances in 2009, what would the motivation be? Thurston says it’s all about cheating the tax system:
“As for the possible motivation of compensating Trump through his Foundation for performing on WWE television, doing so may have allowed Trump to avoid paying taxes, something he’s made an effort to do in other cases. Likewise, claiming a large charitable donation to the Trump Foundation might have eased the McMahons’ personal tax burden in those years. Whether any of that is legal is another question.”
What do you make of Thurston’s theory about Vince’s newly discovered payments potentially being connected to Donald Trump, Cagesiders?