Vince McMahon Paid Millions in Hush Money to Staffers: Report

Investigation reveals NDAs alleging misconduct by CEO and John Laurinaitis
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2022 9:30 AM CDT
Vince McMahon Paid Millions in Hush Money to Staffers: Report
In this Oct. 30, 2010 file photo, WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon speaks to an audience during a WWE fan appreciation event in Hartford, Conn.   (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

(Newser) – The WWE board of directors is investigating numerous secret nondisclosure agreements involving its chairman Vince McMahon, including a $3 million settlement paid to a former paralegal at the company to cover up an alleged affair. That's according to the Wall Street Journal, which spoke with sources who say the $3 million settlement, inked in January, bars the former employee from discussing her relationship with the CEO or disparaging him. The 12-member board's eight independent directors (excluding McMahon, his daughter Stephanie McMahon, her husband Paul Levesque, and WWE President Nick Khan) began investigating in April following a series of anonymous emails.

Written by a person claiming to be a friend of the paralegal, they claim McMahon increased the woman's salary from $100,000 to $200,000 after beginning a sexual relationship with her, then "gave her like a toy" to his trusted associate John Laurinaitis, head of talent relations. The woman, hired in 2019, reportedly became an assistant to Laurinaitis in 2021. "My friend was so scared so she quit after Vince McMahon and [his longtime attorney Jerry McDevitt] paid her millions of dollars to shut up," one email read, per the Journal. A lawyer for McMahon reportedly submitted a copy of the agreement to the board—which has hired law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP to conduct the investigation—on June 12.

The board has since learned of other NDAs involving former female employees who accused McMahon and Laurinaitis of misconduct, and was still collecting details on those as of this week, per the Journal. A WWE rep says the company is fully cooperating with the investigation, adding that McMahon's relationship with the paralegal was consensual. McDevitt tells the Journal that the woman didn't make any harassment claims and the "WWE did not pay any monies" to her "on her departure." Sources say the 76-year-old McMahon paid using personal funds. "It's unclear what consequences, if any, McMahon could face given that he functionally owns WWE," per the New York Daily News. (Read more WWE stories.)

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