Jan 27, 2024 - Business

Vince McMahon resigns from TKO amid sexual assault lawsuit

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Vince McMahon resigned as executive chairman of WWE's parent company, TKO Group, one day after being accused of sexual assault and sex trafficking in a lawsuit.

Why it matters: The move appears to be an attempt to allow the fast growing professional wrestling group to move forward without McMahon's legal troubles.

Details: McMahon denied the allegations as "made-up instances that never occurred" in a statement Friday night, adding that he was stepping down "out of respect for the WWE Universe."

  • "I have decided to resign from my executive chairmanship and the TKO board of directors, effective immediately," he said.

Catch up quick: McMahon was accused of sexual assault, trafficking, and physical and emotional abuse in a lawsuit filed by former WWE employee Janel Grant on Thursday.

  • The lawsuit also names former head of talent relations and general manager John Laurinaitis and WWE as defendants.

Flashback: The lawsuit comes six months after federal agents executed a search warrant on McMahon and served him with a grand jury subpoena over payments he made to multiple women, including Grant, to settle previous sexual misconduct claims. At that time, he was not charged with a crime.

  • McMahon briefly retired as CEO of WWE in July 2022 after an internal investigation into those payments and sexual misconduct claims. He returned at the beginning of 2023 as executive chairman of WWE's board.
  • Shortly after returning, he agreed to sell the company to media and talent agency Endeavor, the Los Angeles-based firm where super-agent Ari Emanuel is CEO.
  • Endeavor then merged WWE and the UFC to create TKO Group, listing it on the New York Stock Exchange. McMahon served as TKO executive chairman until stepping down on Friday. Emanuel is TKO's CEO as well.

Of note: McMahon has not been charged criminally for any of the allegations.

  • TKO previously said in a statement responding to the allegations that "Mr. McMahon "does not control TKO nor does he oversee the day-to-day operations of WWE." The allegations pre-date the creation of TKO.
  • McMahon is still one of TKO's largest shareholders, even after selling around $700 million in stock last November.

The big picture: McMahon's departure comes as the WWE embarks on a new chapter as a company.

  • WWE on Tuesday said it struck a 10-year deal with Netflix to air "Monday Night Raw," one of TV's longest-running weekly episodic programs.

What to watch: The same WWE universe that McMahon refers to, along with TKO investors and employees, will be watching to see if the lawsuit results in a settlement or trial, and whether McMahon's allegations weigh on the overall entity.

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