Vince McMahon has presided over the professional wrestling organization for more than four decades
Vince McMahon, the longtime chairman and former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), has resigned from the company he took control of more than four decades ago, after a former employee accused him of a range of sexual offenses in a federal lawsuit.
McMahon, 78, who denies the allegations, has also resigned from WWE parent company TKO Group, he confirmed in a statement.
On Thursday, former WWE employee Janel Grant alleged in a lawsuit filed in a federal court in the US state of Connecticut, that she had been “the victim of physical and emotional abuse, sexual assault and trafficking at WWE.”
The suit, which also alleges impropriety against another WWE executive and the organization as a whole, claims that McMahon compelled Grant into a sexual relationship in return for employment and advancement opportunities with the company.
It also makes extremely graphic claims of demeaning sexual behavior by McMahon, and alleges that images and videos of Grant were distributed within the company without her consent.
“I have decided to resign from my executive chairmanship and the TKO board of directors, effective immediately,” McMahon said in a statement issued Friday, the day after the allegations became known. “I intend to vigorously defend myself against these baseless accusations, and look forward to clearing my name.”
Speaking to CNN on Thursday, Grant’s attorney, Ann Callis, said that the lawsuit seeks to “hold accountable” two WWE executives, in addition to “the organization that facilitated or turned a blind eye to the abuse.”
McMahon previously announced his retirement from WWE in June 2022, days after a report by the Wall Street Journal which claimed that he had paid more than $12 million to four women to cover up “allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity.” He returned to the company in January 2023.
Late on Saturday, after the WWE’s ‘Royal Rumble’ event, Paul Levesque, WWE’s chief content officer and McMahon’s real-life son-in-law, refused to be drawn into the issue.
“I’m going to do exactly what you expect me to do here,” Levesque, who previously performed under the ring name ‘Triple H’ said. “I choose to focus on the positives,” he added, referencing a recent big-money deal the WWE signed with Netflix. “And yes, there’s a negative, but I want to focus on [the positives] and do that.”
McMahon took over WWE, previously known as WWF, from his father, the late Vincent J. McMahon, in 1982 and he served on the board of directors until September 2023.
In addition to his behind-the-scenes role, McMahon was also known for his villainous ‘Mr McMahon’ character, who feuded with some of the company’s biggest-name wrestlers in fictional storylines on WWE programming.