Vince McMahon; former WWE chairman’s relationship with Donald Trump, as he faces sex trafficking allegations

In the wake of a WSJ article accusing him of sex trafficking and abuse, Vince McMahon resigned from his position in the WWE overnight

People in this article

Vince McMahon (L) and Donald Trump attend a press conference about the WWE at the Austin Straubel International Airport on June 22, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Mark A. Wallenfang/Getty Images)Vince McMahon (L) and Donald Trump attend a press conference about the WWE at the Austin Straubel International Airport on June 22, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Mark A. Wallenfang/Getty Images)
Vince McMahon (L) and Donald Trump attend a press conference about the WWE at the Austin Straubel International Airport on June 22, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mark A. Wallenfang/Getty Images)

Vince McMahon, the founder of the WWE who is at the center of a lawsuit regarding failed NDA payments, has resigned from his position at the company he had built. Through a statement, McMahon statement that although he still vehemently denies the claims and considers them a shakedown, for the sakes of the investors involved with the WWE and TKO Group Holdings, he would resign from his senior role.

The move comes after Slim Jim, one of the biggest advertisers with the company ahead of this evening's Royal Rumble event, had decided to "pause" their campaign after the publication of the damning Wall Street Journal article. That article, drawn from court filings made by a former WWE staffer, detailing the level of abuse Janel Grant suffered at the hands of McMahon between 2020 and 2022.

McMahon stood down from his role as chairman in 2022 due to an investigation into a number of million-dollars "hush money" deals, with Grant suspected now of being one of those. Grant broke the terms of her NDA after McMahon had only paid $1 million USD of the $3 million USD she was owed.

The Wall Street Journal article depicted Vince McMahon as an emotional "groomer," targeting the young Grant when the WWE founder was offering her help getting a job - shortly after the death of her mother. Throughout their relationship, McMahon subjected Grant to depraved sexual acts, abuse of power and trafficking her to other people within the company, including John Laurinaitis and several other individuals, not named in the court filing.

The company completed its own probe of McMahon’s conduct late last year, but Grant revealed in the court filing that she was never approached at any point during the WWE's internal investigation which her legal counsel considered "whitewashing."

In an emailed statement from the WWE on behalf of McMahon, he said “Throughout this experience, I have always denied any intentional wrongdoing and continue to do so. I am confident that the government’s investigation will be resolved without any findings of wrongdoing.”

How far does Vince McMahon’s relationship with Donald Trump go?

Vince McMahon's relationship with Donald Trump has spanned several decades after Trump housed McMahon’s brainchild, Wrestlemania, at Trump Plaza in 1988 and 1989. While their association is primarily centred around their involvement in the world of professional wrestling and entertainment, it has also extended to personal interactions and business collaborations.

Donald Trump, wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon attend the press conference held by Battle of the Billionaires to announce the details of Wrestlemania 23 at Trump Tower on March 28, 2007 in New York City.  (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)Donald Trump, wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon attend the press conference held by Battle of the Billionaires to announce the details of Wrestlemania 23 at Trump Tower on March 28, 2007 in New York City.  (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)
Donald Trump, wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon attend the press conference held by Battle of the Billionaires to announce the details of Wrestlemania 23 at Trump Tower on March 28, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

One of the most notable instances of their collaboration was in 2007 when Trump hosted WrestleMania 23 at his Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The event featured the "Battle of the Billionaires" match, where each billionaire (McMahon and Trump) selected a representative to fight on their behalf. The losing billionaire would have their head shaved bald in the ring. Bobby Lashley, Trump's representative, won the match, resulting in Vince McMahon getting his head shaved by Trump and Lashley.

Beyond their wrestling collaboration, Vince McMahon and Donald Trump have had personal interactions and shared similarities in their larger-than-life personalities; both have made appearances on each other's television shows and media outlets, further solidifying their public association.

Additionally, in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Vince McMahon's wife, Linda McMahon, was appointed by Donald Trump as the Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA). This appointment demonstrated a close connection between the McMahon family and the Trumps in the political sphere and to the dismay of some wrestling fans, where McMahon’s overt political allegiances lay.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.