WWE's Vince McMahon retires amid misconduct probe

Billionaire who revolutionised wrestling as entertainment is accused of paying 'hush money' to female employees

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Vince McMahon retired as the chairman and chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment on Friday amid an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct.

The sporting company issued a statement from McMahon in which he thanked them and said he felt "extremely confident in the continued success of WWE".

The statement did not mention the ongoing internal investigation into McMahon, who has been accused of paying millions of dollars to female staff members to suppress several allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity.

McMahon announced he would step down in June after the Wall Street Journal revealed he was under internal investigation over allegedly paying a departing female colleague $3 million following a consensual affair.

At the time, McMahon said he had would do "everything possible to support the investigation" and promised to accept its findings.

The Journal later reported McMahon had paid more than $12m to four women over the past 16 years — a much larger sum than initially reported in June. The four women had reportedly signed agreements with the WWE star barring them from discussing their relationships with him.

The allegations were just the latest in a career mired by controversies, including accusations he neglected the mental, physical and financial wellbeing of his employees.

His daughter, Stephanie, is now the chairwoman and shares chief executive duties with Nick Khan.

McMahon purchased WWE from his father in 1982 and transformed it from a small business into a global brand that reshaped the wrestling entertainment industry.

He often assumed the role of a pantomime villain in wrestling matches, playing on his status as the billionaire owner of the organisation.

His colourful appearances over decades of wrestling spawned a variety of online memes, often showing his animated face.

In one notable episode named the Battle of the Billionaires, McMahon faced off against then-businessman Donald Trump. The fight ended with McMahon being held down in a chair as the future president of the US shaved off his hair.

Aside from McMahon's own brand, WWE produced celebrities including Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, John Cena and Hulk Hogan.

WWE's most recent signing is controversial YouTuber Logan Paul, who competed at WrestleMania 38 in April.

- with input from agencies

Updated: July 23, 2022, 6:49 AM