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WWE Chairman Vince McMahon retires amid sexual misconduct probe

Vince McMahon, the chairman and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, is retiring from his roles, he announced Friday.

The news about McMahon, who is credited with bringing pro wrestling to the national stage, comes after the company’s board began investigating him and John Laurinaitis, WWE’s former head of talent relations, in April for alleged sexual misconduct.

McMahon, who made a name for himself as a prominent wrestling commentator and on-screen personality, temporarily stepped down from his responsibilities as CEO and chairman in June pending the conclusion of the investigation. That same month, Laurinaitis, a former wrestler whose ring name was Johnny Ace, was placed on administrative leave as a result of the allegations.

Stephanie McMahon became interim CEO and chairwoman when her father stepped back in June. She and WWE’s president, Nick Khan, will serve as co-CEOs, according to a statement.

McMahon was at the helm of WWE for decades, leading it to millions of viewers and more than $1 billion in revenue last year, a first for the company. The company’s television programs have featured the likes of Hulk Hogan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and John Cena, all wrestling greats who became household names.

In June, the Wall Street Journal first reported the company’s investigation into a $3 million dollar settlement McMahon had agreed to pay to a former employee he allegedly had an affair with.

But this month, WSJ reported that Vince McMahon agreed to pay more than $12 million to four women formerly affiliated with the company to quell allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity.

When asked for comment, a WWE representative directed The Washington Post to McMahon’s statement released Friday.

McMahon said he would continue to “support WWE in any way I can.” He remains a majority shareholder.

McMahon comes from a line of wrestling promoters, dating back to his grandfather. In 1982, he bought the company, then called the World Wrestling Federation, from his father, Vincent J. McMahon.

Vince McMahon helped shape WWE into a cultural phenomenon in the United States, ensuring the company generated sizable profits and significant cultural impact despite controversies surrounding him, his business strategies and his television persona — a villain.

In the early 1990s, McMahon was indicted by the Justice Department on several charges, including conspiring to distribute steroids, possession of illegal steroids with intent to distribute and embezzlement of funds to purchase steroids. McMahon was acquitted of all the charges in 1994.

His on-screen character, Mr. McMahon, was known as one of the most evil and twisted characters on the company’s programming. Based on his real life, the persona was known for villainous storylines, most famously opposite Austin.

Until the recent accusations, McMahon had long been expected to lead WWE for the foreseeable future.

When he stepped back from his duties last month, McMahon said in a statement that he would “accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are.”

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