Vince McMahon, the former WWE chief executive, is retiring from the company, he said in a statement on Friday. The news follows an investigation into McMahon paying millions of dollars in hush money to cover up alleged infidelity and misconduct with multiple women.
“As I approach 77 years old, I feel it’s time for me to retire as Chairman and CEO of WWE,” McMahon said.
Last month, a report in the Wall Street Journal said the company’s board was investigating McMahon for agreeing to pay a secret $3 million settlement to a former employee with whom he allegedly had an affair.
A new report from the Journal came out earlier this month that said McMahon paid more than $12 million to four women, including the one from the prior report, to cover up “allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity.”
The longtime WWE boss agreed to step back from his role as chairman and CEO while the investigation was ongoing. His daughter, Stephanie McMahon, and president Nick Khan will serve as co-CEOs.
McMahon has said previously he is cooperating with investigators. His lawyer told the Journal that “WWE did not pay any monies” to the former employee “on her departure.”
The WWE did not have any further comment Friday beyond McMahon’s statement.
McMahon has been an major part of the WWE for decades, both behind the scenes and in the ring.
The CEO helped turn the company into a global brand and media powerhouse, which currently has deals with Fox and NBCUniversal. McMahon also helped to elevate many famous wrestlers, like The Rock, John Cena and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
According to the Journal, the women, all of whom were involved with WWE, signed agreements with McMahon that “prohibit them from discussing potential legal claims against or their relationships with the 76-year-old executive.”
The Journal said McMahon paid the women over a period of 16 years.
On Friday, McMahon said that the company will “continue to entertain you with the same fervor, dedication, and passion as always.”
“I am extremely confident in the continued success of WWE, and I leave our company in the capable hands of an extraordinary group of Superstars, employees, and executives,” he said. “As the majority shareholder, I will continue to support WWE in any way I can.”
He ended the statement with the company’s signature phrase: “Then. Now. Forever. Together.”