Vince McMahon Cuts W.W.E. Ties After Sex Trafficking Accusation

Vince McMahon, the longtime chairman and former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, resigned from the board of W.W.E.’s parent company on Friday, one day after a former employee accused him of sexual assault and trafficking in a federal lawsuit.

Mr. McMahon was the executive chairman of TKO Group, the parent company of W.W.E., though he held no formal position at W.W.E. W.W.E. employees were informed of the changes in an email sent by Nick Kahn, the company’s president.

“He will no longer have a role with TKO Group Holdings or W.W.E.,” Mr. Kahn wrote in the email, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, accused Mr. McMahon of trafficking the employee, Janel Grant, as well as physically and emotionally abusing her. The graphic complaint, which also named John Laurinatis, a W.W.E. executive, and the company itself as defendants, says Mr. McMahon and Mr. Laurinatis once took turns raping her, among numerous other allegations.

Mr. McMahon eventually pressured Ms. Grant to sign a nondisclosure agreement in exchange for $3 million, according to the complaint, but paid her only $1 million.

In a statement released after his resignations, Mr. McMahon called Ms. Grant’s lawsuit a “vindictive distortion of the truth” and said he looked forward to clearing his name. But he decided to resign “out of respect” for TKO, W.W.E., their employees and wrestlers.

The lawsuit is far from the first time Mr. McMahon has been accused of sexual misconduct. In 2022, a special committee of W.W.E.’s board conducted an investigation into Mr. McMahon’s conduct, and found that over 16 years he had spent $14.6 million in payments to women who had accused him of sexual misconduct. A further company investigation found he had made an additional $5 million in payments to two different women.

Mr. McMahon temporarily resigned from W.W.E. during the investigation. But he remained the company’s largest shareholder, and in 2023 he returned to chair its board and initiate a sale process that resulted in sports and entertainment conglomerate Endeavor purchasing it. Endeavor then combined W.W.E. and another one of its holdings, the mixed martial arts promotional company Ultimate Fighting Championships, into a new public company, TKO Group.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.