World Wrestling Entertainment’s Vince McMahon said on Friday he would retire as the company’s chief executive and chairman, about a month after stepping back from those roles due to an investigation into his alleged misconduct.
McMahon, 76, was being investigated by the board for agreements to pay $12 million over the past 16 years to suppress allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity, the Wall Street Journal had previously reported.
McMahon last month pledged to support WWE’s investigation. He did not address the probe in Friday’s statement.
WWE, which produces and distributes weekly wrestling shows “Raw” and “Smackdown”, named his daughter, Stephanie McMahon, as the interim head in June.
Vince McMahon has been the powerhouse behind the wrestling entertainment company, transforming it from a regional player in a highly fragmented industry of the 1980s to a global giant, with about $1 billion in revenue in 2021.
He used scripted matches, celebrity wrestlers and glitz to make the brand more acceptable to television audiences and created the concept of pay-per-view matches for bigger events such as “WrestleMania” to build its revenue base.
The company was also dogged by controversies under his stewardship, including charges of steroid use.
“Our global audience can take comfort in knowing WWE will continue to entertain you with the same fervor, dedication, and passion as always,” the departing company chief said in a statement.
“As the majority shareholder, I will continue to support WWE in any way I can.”
McMahon was the top trending topic on Twitter in the United States, with many WWE fans expressing shock at the sudden announcement.
WWE declined to comment on McMahon’s retirement and did not respond to requests for comment about the probe.
The company’s shares are up 34% for the year as it benefits from the return of audiences at its live events.