Following a suit Thursday asserting that Vince McMahon sexally assaulted and trafficked former WWE employee Janel Grant, the WWE founder has resigned from his role as chairman of parent company TKO Group Holdings, according to an email from WWE president Nick Khan shared with TheWrap. TKO Group was created as the new parent company of WWE in its merger last year with UFC.
“I wanted to inform you that Vince McMahon has tendered his resignation from his positions as TKO Executive Chairman and on the TKO Board of Directors,” Khan wrote in an email to staff on Friday. “He will no longer have a role with TKO Group Holdings or WWE.”
“I stand by my prior statement that Ms. Grant’s lawsuit is replete with lies, obscene made-up instances that never occurred, and is a vindictive distortion of the truth,” McMahon said in a statement. “I intend to vigorously defend myself against these baseless accusations, and look forward to clearing my name.
“However, out of respect for the WWE Universe, the extraordinary TKO business and its board members and shareholders, partners and constituents, and all of the employees and Superstars who helped make WWE into the global leader it is today, I have decided to resign from my executive chairmanship and the TKO board of directors, effective immediately.”
It had been unclear if McMahon could be forced out, as TKO Group’s founding documents registered with the SEC include clauses stating that the chairman role could only be filled by someone else if McMahon resigned, died or was incapacitated. McMahon remains a major shareholder in TKO Group.
In the suit against McMahon, Grant accused him of sexually exploiting her, including in situations involving other WWE employees. The detailed lawsuit includes graphic descriptions of what McMahon and others allegedly did, including that McMahon and former executive John Laurinaitis sexually assaulted Grant inside WWE headquarters.
Earlier Friday, WWE advertiser Slim Jim paused its sponsorship of WWE programming in a move which it said was due to the allegations against McMahon.
A spokesperson for WWE parent company TKO Group Holdings told TheWrap after the suit’s announcement Thursday, “Mr. McMahon does not control TKO nor does he oversee the day-to-day operations of WWE. While this matter pre-dates our TKO executive team’s tenure at the company, we take Ms. Grant’s horrific allegations very seriously and are addressing this matter internally.”
TKO Group’s CEO is Ari Emanuel, the famed Hollywood agent who also serves as CEO of Endeavor. Emanuel cofounded TKO Group with McMahon, which controls both WWE and mixed-martial arts organization the UFC.
Earlier this week, WWE struck a $5 billion deal with Netflix for streaming rights to “Raw” and other programming domestically and internationally for the next 10 years, with options to extend it as long as the next 20 years.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson also joined the company’s board this week with a deal that includes $30 million in stock.
The post WWE Founder Vince McMahon Resigns Following Sex Assault Suit appeared first on TheWrap.