Vince McMahon sexual trafficking scandal

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Vince McMahon in 2006

The Vince McMahon sexual trafficking scandal is an ongoing scandal regarding professional wrestling promoter Vince McMahon, long-time owner of WWE, and allegations by a former WWE employee that McMahon sexually trafficked and assaulted her at WWE's corporate headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, and New York City.


Vince McMahon (born 1945) is a professional wrestling promoter who bought his father Vincent J. McMahon's promotion – then called the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) – in 1982. Under McMahon's ownership, WWF underwent an aggressive national expansion during the 1980s professional wrestling boom which effectively made the WWF – later renamed to World Wrestling Entertainment, and later still, simply WWE – the leading professional wrestling promotion in the United States and, later, the world.[1] In June 2022, WWE's board of directors started investigating a $3 million hush money payment, and the board found that McMahon had made $12 million in payments to four women, two of whom alleged sexual misconduct against McMahon.[2][3] This was not the first time McMahon had been publicly accused of sexual misconduct: in 1992, former WWF referee Rita Chatterton alleged McMahon raped her in 1986;[4] and in 2006, a tanning salon employee in Boca Raton, Florida, alleged that McMahon had sexually harassed and groped her.[5]

As a result of the investigation, McMahon retired in July 2022 as chief executive officer of WWE, but still remained its largest shareholder. McMahon was succeeded as CEO by his daughter Stephanie McMahon and company president Nick Khan.[6] In November 2022, WWE's internal investigation into the hush money payments was completed, but the company did not publicly disclose its results.[7] In January 2023, McMahon exited retirement and returned as executive chairman of WWE amid rumours that the company would be sold; McMahon's public statement also referred to WWE's ongoing negotiations regarding its media rights.[8] In September 2023, WWE officially merged with mixed martial arts promotion Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to create TKO Group Holdings, of which McMahon was appointed executive chairman.[9]


On January 25, 2024, former WWE employee Janel Grant filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut against WWE, McMahon, and former WWE Head of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis alleging that McMahon had sexually assaulted and trafficked her, and sought to have a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) relating to the conduct voided, both under the auspices of the Speak Out Act, which makes such NDAs illegal and unenforceable, and as nullified by McMahon's refusal to follow the contracted obligations within the NDA.[10][11] Grant, a former paralegal who lived in the same apartment block as McMahon, was offered employment with WWE in 2019 after the death of her parents.[10] During the course of her employment, Grant alleged that McMahon recruited individuals, most notably Laurinaitis, for the purpose of sexual relations with her.[10] Of the alleged conduct, Grant made several noteworthy allegations, including:

  • In June 2020, Grant, McMahon, and a personal friend of McMahon engaged in a threesome and at one point, McMahon defecated upon Grant. McMahon temporarily retired to the restroom to clean himself, at which point the threesome continued for an hour and half with Grant still covered in McMahon's feces.[10]
  • In June 2021, Laurinitis and McMahon "cornered her and pulled her in between them, forcibly touched her, before ultimately putting her on top of a table in between them. She begged them to stop, but they forced themselves on her, each taking turns restraining her for the other".[10]
  • During the course of her employment, McMahon shared sexually explicit media with a "world-famous athlete" and former UFC Heavyweight Champion[10] – identified by the Wall Street Journal as Brock Lesnar[12] – to entice him to sign a new WWE contract, which the talent eventually did sign.[10]

Grant alleged that the misconduct continued until 2022, at which point McMahon's wife Linda – a former WWE executive and politician – discovered the affair and threatened to divorce him. After several months of negotiations, WWE, McMahon, and Grant signed an NDA in which Grant would be awarded $3 million for her silence; after signing the contract, Grant alleged that McMahon attempted to assault her again. Grant also alleged that key figures in WWE were fully aware of the conduct, and actively sought to conceal McMahon's wrongdoing.[10]

On May 30, Grant agreed to “stay her case" against McMahon for six months at the request of the Department of Justice, who were launching an investigation into the McMahon allegations.[13]


Grant's lawsuit was filed during a prolific week for WWE: just two days prior, WWE had closed a 10-year deal with Netflix worth $10 billion in which the domestic media rights to its flagship television show WWE Raw and the international media rights to its wider content library would be provided to the streaming service;[14] on the same day, former WWE wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was appointed to the TKO board.[15] Upon the filing of the lawsuit, the TKO board issued a statement that, whilst the allegation predated their control of WWE, they "took the allegations very seriously",[16] while McMahon denied the allegations and vowed to "vigorously defend himself".[17]

On January 26, 2024, snack food brand Slim Jim – a long-time sponsor of WWE, and sponsor of the Royal Rumble premium live event that was due to take part on January 27, announced that it was withdrawing its sponsorship of the event. That evening, TKO executives Ari Emanuel and Mark Shapiro met with McMahon to convince him to resign. At 8:30 pm (EST) that evening, McMahon publicly announced his resignation as TKO executive chairman. McMahon’s profile on was also eradicated immediately from the Superstars page.[18] Slim Jim announced the next day that it was resuming its sponsorship of the Royal Rumble.[19]

On February 1, 2024, Laurinitis' lawyer Edward Brennan told Vice News that Laurinitis was also a victim of McMahon's coercive control, and said that Laurinitis would defend himself on that basis.[20] On February 7, Laurinitis alleged that WWE's executives were fully aware of allegations that former WWE wrestler Ashley Massaro was raped by someone posing as a US military doctor during a WWE tour of Kuwait, which contradicted earlier statements by WWE that they were unaware of them, but denied that the company had engaged in a cover up.[21] Two days later, Vice published a previously unseen statement by Massaro which accused McMahon of predating upon other female wrestlers.[22]

On March 11, 2024, Front Office Sports published an article which revealed the identities of four unnamed corporate figures referenced in the lawsuit, which Grant's attorney Ann Callis confirmed was correct:[23]

  • Corporate Officers #1 and #2, which were described in the lawsuit as McMahon's "fixers", were identified as WWE president Nick Khan and WWE COO Brad Blum;[23]
  • Corporate Officer #3, which was "mentioned once [in the lawsuit] in an ambiguous context", was identified as former WWE CEO, and Vince's daughter, Stephanie McMahon;[23]
  • Corporate Officer #4, who was alleged to have treated Grant with hostility within WWE's legal department, was identified as WWE's former general counsel Brian Nurse.[23]

On April 1, 2024, the New York Post published a purported "love letter" from Grant to McMahon which was dated to December 24, 2021, which was taken from Grant's work laptop during the course of the internal investigation. Callis alleged that the love letter was written under duress, whereas McMahon's attorney Jessica Taub Rosenberg said that the letter was proof that Grant was not coerced into writing it, or that she was assaulted by McMahon.[24]

On April 23, 2024, McMahon's lawyers filed a motion to compel arbitration in the case under the terms of the NDA, and stated that McMahon withheld payments as he believed that Grant had broken the terms of the agreement.[25] A day later, Grant's attorneys filed a motion to strike McMahon's motion, alleging that he had used the motion and his preliminary statement to further intimidate Grant.[26]

See also[edit]

  • MeToo movement, a social movement against sexual assault harassment, especially in the entertainment industry.
  • Speaking Out movement, a social movement against sexual assault and harassment within the professional wrestling industry.


  1. ^ Chinmay. "WWE's Vince McMahon: Finding His True Place in Pro Wrestling History". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  2. ^ Palazzolo, Joe; Mann, Ted; Flint, Joe. "WSJ News Exclusive | WWE's Vince McMahon Agreed to Pay $12 Million in Hush Money to Four Women". WSJ. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  3. ^ Palazzolo, Joe; Mann, Ted. "WSJ News Exclusive | WWE Board Probes Secret $3 Million Hush Pact by CEO Vince McMahon, Sources Say". WSJ. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  4. ^ Palazzolo, Joe; Mann, Ted. "WSJ News Exclusive | WWE's Vince McMahon Settles With Ex-Wrestling Referee Who Accused Him of Rape". WSJ. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  5. ^ "Palm Beach Post story on Vince McMahon groping Tanzabar tanning salon attendant". The Palm Beach Post. 2006-02-01. p. 4. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  6. ^ Adams, Matt (July 22, 2022). "WWE owner Vince McMahon announces his retirement amid a sex scandal investigation". NPR.
  7. ^ Calia, Mike (2022-11-02). "WWE ends investigation into alleged misconduct by Vince McMahon". CNBC. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  8. ^ "Disgraced WWE founder Vince McMahon comes out of retirement to rejoin board, shares surge as it explores sale". Fortune. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  9. ^ Perman, Stacey (2023-09-12). "WWE and UFC officially merge in $21.4-billion deal". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Kreps, Daniel (2024-01-25). "WWE Founder Vince McMahon Accused of Sexual Assault, Trafficking in New Lawsuit". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  11. ^ "Former WWE employee accuses Vince McMahon of abuse, sexual assault and trafficking in lawsuit". NBC News. 2024-01-25. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  12. ^ Uebelacker, Erik (January 25, 2024). "Ex-employee accuses WWE founder Vince McMahon of 'sordid' sex abuse and trafficking". Courthouse News Service.
  13. ^ "Former WWE employee suing Vince McMahon agrees to pause her case pending a federal investigation, lawyer says". NBC News. May 30, 2024. Retrieved June 1, 2024.
  14. ^ "Netflix to Become Home of WWE Raw Beginning in 2025". TKO Group Holdings. January 23, 2024.
  15. ^ "TKO Appoints Dwayne Johnson to Board of Directors". TKO Group Holdings. January 23, 2024.
  16. ^ Spangler, Todd (2024-01-25). "WWE Founder Vince McMahon Accused of Sexual Abuse and Trafficking in Lawsuit by Former Employee". Variety. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  17. ^ Patten, Dominic (2024-01-25). "Vince McMahon Denies Defecation, Graphic Rape & Sex-Trafficking Suit; Allegations Being Addressed "Internally", Endeavor-Controlled TKO Group Holdings Says – Update". Deadline. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  18. ^ Weprin, Alex (2024-02-07). "How Vince McMahon Got TKO'd". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  19. ^ "After Vince McMahon Exit From WWE Parent TKO Group, Slim Jim Resumes Sponsorship Of Pro Wrestling Outfit – Update". Yahoo Finance. 2024-01-27. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  20. ^ Marchman, Tim (2024-02-01). "Co-Defendant in Vince McMahon Sex Trafficking Lawsuit Says He Was a Victim Too". Vice. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  21. ^ Marchman, Tim (2024-02-07). "Despite Denials, WWE Management Knew Wrestler Said She Had Been Raped on Military Base". Vice. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  22. ^ Marchman, Tim (2024-02-09). "WWE Wrestler Ashley Massaro Accused Vince McMahon of Sexually Preying on Wrestlers in Previously Unreleased Statement". Vice. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  23. ^ a b c d Thurston, Brandon; Marchman, Tim; Pollock, John (2024-03-11). "WWE's Nick Khan, Brad Blum Revealed as Key Figures in Vince McMahon Sex-Trafficking Suit". Front Office Sports. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  24. ^ "Vince McMahon Allegedly Instructed Janel Grant To Write 'Love Letter' In December 2021 | Fightful News". Retrieved 2024-04-25.
  25. ^ Pollock, John (2024-04-23). "Vince McMahon denies accusations by Janel Grant, attorney Ann Callis issues response". POST Wrestling | WWE AEW NXT NJPW Podcasts, News, Reviews. Retrieved 2024-04-25.
  26. ^ Rose, Bryan (2024-04-24). "Janel Grant files motion to strike Vince McMahon's preliminary statement". WON/F4W - WWE news, Pro Wrestling News, WWE Results, AEW News, AEW results. Retrieved 2024-04-25.

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