New York (CNN Business)Former WWE chief executive Vince McMahon paid more than $12 million to four women to cover up “allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity,” according to a Wall Street Journal report.
The women, all of whom were involved with WWE, signed agreements with McMahon that “prohibit them from discussing potential legal claims against or their relationships with the 76-year-old executive.”
The report of the hush money, which the Journal said was paid over 16 years, is the latest part of a corporate firestorm for McMahon.
Last month another report from the Journal said the company’s board was investigating McMahon for agreeing to pay a secret $3 million settlement to a former employee with whom he allegedly had an affair. That woman is among the four mentioned in the new report.
The longtime WWE (WWE) boss agreed to step back from his role as chairman and CEO while the investigation is ongoing.
The WWE did not immediately return CNN’s request for comment on this story.
“I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the special committee, and I will do everything possible to support the investigation,” McMahon said in a statement last month. “I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are.”
McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie, is serving as interim CEO and chairwoman.
Yet McMahon has not shied away from the spotlight: He has retained not only his input on WWE’s creative content, but also his in-ring persona. The company said last month that McMahon would continue to appear as his character during matches as the investigation continues.
In fact, McMahon didn’t wait long to re-enter the ring. Just days after the initial report, McMahon appeared on the company’s wrestling telecast “Smackdown,” telling the audience he was there to remind them of the four words that make up the “WWE signature.”
“Those four words are ‘then,’ ‘now,’ ‘forever,’ and the most important word is ‘together,'” he said. “Welcome to Smackdown!” McMahon then left the ring to the tune of his theme song, “No Chance in Hell.”
— CNN Business’ Jordan Valinsky contributed to this report.
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