WWE’s Vince McMahon has resigned from the TKO Group amid his sexual assault, trafficking and abuse lawsuit.
McMahon, 78, announced Friday, January 26, that he is stepping down from his role of executive chairman at the media conglomerate that was created by Endeavor Group Holdings as part of a merger between the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) last year. The news comes just one day after former WWE staffer Janel Grant claimed she was a victim of “physical and emotional abuse, sexual assault and trafficking” during her employment under McMahon.
“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,” McMahon shared in a statement to Us Weekly on Friday.
McMahon, who previously denied the allegations made by Grant, added, “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. I intend to vigorously defend myself against these baseless accusations, and look forward to clearing my name.”
Us obtained documents on Thursday, January 25, in which Grant alleged that McMahon displayed an “increasing lack of boundaries” after they met in 2019, claiming he would greet her “in his underwear, touched her, repeatedly asked for hugs, and spent hours sharing intimate details about his personal life.”
According to Grant, McMahon “pushed” her to engage in a physical relationship in exchange for a job at WWE. Because she allegedly feared “negative consequences” if she turned him down, she claims she ultimately “[succumbed] to the pressure.”
McMahon also allegedly shared sexually explicit photographs of Grant with other men within the WWE, had “increasingly depraved sexual demands” and coerced her into having sex with other staffers at the company headquarters during working hours. This included WWE general manager John Laurinaitis, who was also named in the lawsuit along with the corporation as a whole.
Grant claimed the WWE knew about the “wrongdoing” and attempted to cover it up, with McMahon attempting to silence her with a nondisclosure agreement. McMahon also allegedly “attempted to traffic her to a WWE star.”
After the news made headlines, TKO claimed that they were “internally” addressing the situation. “Mr. McMahon does not control TKO nor does he oversee the day-to-day operations of WWE,” a TKO spokesperson told Us in a statement on Thursday. “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.”
A spokesperson for McMahon, meanwhile, called Grant’s allegations “lies, obscene made-up instances that never occurred, and a vindictive distortion of the truth,” adding that the pro wrestler will “vigorously defend himself.”
This is not the first time McMahon has faced sexual assault charges. In June 2022, a former employee accused him of paying a $3 million settlement to cover up an alleged affair. Vince, who has been married to wife Linda McMahon since 1966, denied the claims at the time before voluntarily stepping down as CEO of WWE during an internal investigation. Vince’s daughter, Stephanie McMahon, served as co-CEO and chairwoman of the board of directors following her father’s exit. She resigned from the company less than a week after his return in January 2023.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)