MONEY & BUSINESS: WWE in chaos as sex scandal puts Vince McMahon’s future in doubt
Vince McMahon’s sex scandal has thrown the WWE into chaos ahead of this weekend’s much-hyped Royal Rumble and the recent $5 billion deal with Netflix – leading to speculation that the mogul’s longtime stranglehold over his wrestling empire could finally be broken.
McMahon, the executive chairman of WWE-parent TKO Group Holdings, was slapped with a bombshell lawsuit Thursday by former staffer Janel Grant – which include allegations that he defecated on her during a threesome, trafficked her to other WWE executives and sexually abused her with toys he named after wrestling stars.
Another explosive charge in the complaint involved Brock Lesnar, one of wrestling’s biggest stars. McMahon, 78, told Grant to create sexualized content on her phone and send it to the wrestler in his bid to sign him away from rival UFC, according to the complaint and reporting by the Wall Street Journal.
Lesnar was expected to make his WWE return during the 37th annual Royal Rumble, a pay-per-view event set for Saturday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Those plans may now be scuttled, per pro-wrestling news site Wrestling Inc.
McMahon’s continued presence also poses a headache for Netflix, which signed a 10-year deal with TKO as it moves into the live streaming business for popular WWE shows like “Raw,” “SmackDown,” NXT, and premium events, including WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, and SummerSlam.
However, prying McMahon’s grip will not be easy. The wrestling boss retained immense power after returning to the company last year. He had stepped away six months earlier while the WWE’s board investigated separate sexual misconduct allegations against him.
WWE formed a “special committee” to probe McMahon’s conduct that concluded in November 2022 and no disciplinary action was taken.
Last year, he completed a $21.4 billion merger with Endeavor, the talent agency run by Ari Emanuel, and formed TKO Group.
“There’s a TKO bylaw, which states that Vince is the executive chairman basically until he dies, resigns or is incapacitated,” media personality Andrew Baydala said Friday in a post on X.
“Vince McMahon will ultimately step down and remove himself from the board, which is the best situation for everybody,” Baydala added, suggesting that Endeavor could skirt having to pay McMahon a handsome severance sum if he leaves on his own terms.
A legal expert told The Post that TKO could try to fire McMahon for “just cause” but it’s too early in the legal battle with Grant.
“If it starts leaning towards he did do it and the company found that it would affect them negatively, it might have ‘just cause’ to fire him,” said Gregory Stone, founding partner of NY-based corporate and real estate law firm Fisher Stone.
“This lawsuit is replete with lies, obscene made-up instances that never occurred, and a vindictive distortion of the truth. He will vigorously defend himself,” their statement said.
TKO said McMahon “McMahon does not control TKO nor does he oversee the day-to-day operations of WWE.”
“While this matter predates our TKO executive team’s tenure at the company, we take Ms. Grant’s horrific allegations very seriously and are addressing this matter internally,” the company told The Post on Friday.