Game on! Sports and entertainment collide in a blockbuster merger announced this Monday.
Endeavor, the parent company of UFC, has taken over WWE and will establish a dual sports-entertainment powerhouse, led by the two colossal brands. While Dana White will continue as UFC president, Vince McMahon will remain the executive chairman of WWE.
Vince McMahon has denied that recent misconduct allegations made against him played any role in the WWE’s merger with the UFC on Monday.
Ari Emanuel, the CEO of Endeavor, will supervise the new company, of which Endeavor will have a 51 percent controlling stake, and the remaining 49 percent will be controlled by existing WWE shareholders. The deal has been estimated to be worth $21.4 billion.
— Vince McMahon (@VinceMcMahon) April 3, 2023
In a one-on-one interview with CNBC’s Scott Wapner, the 77-year-old ex-wrestler was questioned about the WWE-UFC merger, and if it would have occurred even if he hadn’t resolved a lawsuit earlier this year. The lawsuit was from a former referee who accused McMahon of raping her back in 1986.
When asked about the impact of the scandal on the merger, McMahon denied any influence, responding with a firm “Absolutely not. Nothing has ever happened like this before, and again, I’m always looking at what’s best for our stockholders, what’s best for the company.”
McMahon said the merger is “the best thing that has happened in a long, long time” and called it “the best day of” his life. “It’s a great day,” he told CNBC.
Wapner asked McMahon if the scandal at least pushed him “towards this day faster” than he anticipated. “No, it didn’t really in and of itself, no, but it’s great that we can combine all of this news together at the same time,” McMahon replied.
The ex-CEO of WWE, who stepped down from his position in July after the accusations, but returned as the executive chairman in January, clarified by saying, “Things have to evolve, family business, it all has to evolve for all the right reasons and this is the right business decision thus far, it’s the right family decision.”
McMahon admitted to making mistakes “obviously both personally and professionally” throughout his 50-year career. “I’ve owned up to every single one of them and then moved on,” he told Wapner.
As per a report from The Wall Street Journal, McMahon resolved the lawsuit filed against him by Rita Chatterton, a former referee who claimed he raped her. Although Chatterton demanded $11.75 million from the WWE executive, the two parties settled for a multimillion-dollar sum that was less than the requested amount.
In comments to WSJ, McDevitt said McMahon denied the allegations.
“Mr. McMahon denies and always has denied raping Ms. Chatterton,” he said. “And he settled the case solely to avoid the cost of litigation.”
In 2022, an investigation was initiated against McMahon after WWE’s board received an email, informing them of an alleged $3 million payment that McMahon made to a female paralegal to prevent her from discussing their supposed sexual relationship or making negative comments about him. The WSJ was the first to report this news.
Following his resignation as the head of WWE, McMahon, who is also the controlling shareholder of the company, returned in January, citing “upcoming media rights negotiations” and “increased industry-wide demand for quality content and live events.”
“The only way for WWE to fully capitalize on this opportunity is for me to return as Executive Chairman and support the management team in the negotiations for our media rights and to combine that with a review of strategic alternatives,” he said in a statement. “My return will allow WWE, as well as any transaction counterparties, to engage in these processes knowing they will have the support of the controlling shareholder.”