In a significant turn of events at the New York Stock Exchange on January 23, 2024, Vince McMahon, the Executive Chairman of TKO, was present to welcome Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as a new member of the TKO Board of Directors.
Amidst this high-profile addition, Vince McMahon, founder of WWE, finds himself at the center of grave allegations. A lawsuit filed on Thursday accuses McMahon of assault, trafficking, and physical abuse, as reported by a former WWE staffer, Janel Grant.
Grant, formerly employed at WWE headquarters, brings these accusations over a year after a WWE-appointed special committee concluded an investigation into McMahon's alleged misconduct during his tenure as chairman and CEO.
McMahon retired in July 2022 amidst the investigation but has since resumed his role at the helm of WWE’s parent company.
McMahon's Disturbing Allegations
The lawsuit, filed in a Connecticut district court, alleges that McMahon offered Grant employment and subsequent promotions at WWE in exchange for sexual favors.
The lawsuit also accuses McMahon of trafficking Grant to other men within and outside the company, including John Laurinaitis, a former wrestler and talent relations executive at WWE, also named in the lawsuit. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report on these developments.
Grant claims that at the end of their relationship, McMahon coerced her into signing a non-disclosure agreement, promising payments totaling $3 million over several years.
TKO Addresses Allegations
WWE’s parent company, TKO Group Holdings, stated that McMahon does not control TKO nor oversee WWE's day-to-day operations.
In April 2023, WWE and UFC announced their merger to form TKO, with McMahon leading the initiative. TKO's spokesperson emphasized taking Grant's allegations seriously, despite them predating the current executive team's tenure.
Conversely, a spokesperson for McMahon dismissed the lawsuit as filled with falsehoods and vowed a vigorous defense. The lawsuit details disturbing episodes, including an alleged incident in May 2020 involving McMahon and a friend.
Grant alleges that during this encounter, McMahon subjected her to humiliating acts. Another alleged assault at WWE headquarters in 2021 involved both McMahon and Laurinaitis. Despite these controversies, WWE has continued to forge profitable partnerships.
In September, WWE merged with a segment of Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor group to form TKO, valuing the new entity at over $21 billion. McMahon, as the largest shareholder of WWE, played a pivotal role in this merger. Additionally, TKO announced Dwayne Johnson's board membership and a significant deal with Netflix for "WWE Raw," further cementing its position in the entertainment industry. These developments demonstrate WWE's resilience in the face of serious allegations against its leadership.