WWE founder Vince McMahon has resigned from his role as executive chairman of WWE and UFC parent company TKO Group Holdings after being sued for sex trafficking.
A former employee, Janel Grant, filed a lawsuit in Connecticut federal court on Thursday.
Grant claims that she was pressured into having a sexual relationship with McMahon to get a job with WWE in 2019.
After she was hired, she claims she became “the victim of physical and emotional abuse, sexual assault and trafficking,” according to the lawsuit.
“When McMahon pushed Ms. Grant for a physical relationship in return for long-promised employment at WWE, she felt trapped in an impossible situation: submitting to McMahon’s sexual demands or facing ruin,” the complaint says.
The complaint continues, “Given McMahon’s omnipotent position at WWE, coercion was inherent in his increasingly depraved sexual demands.”
Those demands, according to Grant, include defecating on her head during a threesome.
The lawsuit also named John Laurinaitis, the WWE’s former head of talent relations and general manager.
“Specifically, while McMahon was CEO of WWE and Ms. Grant was employed as an entry level coordinator in the legal department, McMahon recruited individuals to have sexual relations with Ms. Grant and/or with the two of them, directed Ms. Grant to visit Defendant Laurinaitis prior to the start of workdays for sexual encounters, and expected and directed Ms. Grant to engage in sexual activity at the WWE headquarters, even during working hours,” the lawsuit says.
According to a report from NBC New York, Grant claims that McMahon “directed her to have sex with a WWE ‘superstar’ and other men.”
The lawsuit seeks to void a nondisclosure agreement she alleges she signed in 2022 after McMahon agreed to pay her $3 million to keep quiet. She says McMahon paid her $1 million “but failed to make any further payments.”
McMahon has denied the allegations but announced his resignation on Friday.
Vince McMahon in new statement as he officially resigns from TKO:
“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… pic.twitter.com/xpEK5qnNpn
— Wrestle Ops (@WrestleOps) January 27, 2024
“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,” McMahon said, according to a report from Deadline. “I intend to vigorously defend myself against these baseless accusations, and look forward to clearing my name.”
“However, 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,” he continued.
WWE boss Nick Khan also told staffers in an internal email obtained by Deadline that McMahon had resigned, and “will no longer have a role with TKO Group Holdings or WWE.”
This latest suit against McMahon was filed just over 48 hours after it was announced that TKO had made a 10-year, $5 billion deal with Netflix for the streamer to get in the ring starting next year with WWE‘s Monday Night Raw, as well as other programs from the company. The disturbing lawsuit and now McMahon’s resignation also come as WWE’s 37th Royal Rumble is set for tomorrow. Streaming and on pricey pay-for-view, the Rumble features wrestlers from the Raw and Smackdown units meeting up in St. Petersburg, Florida and fighting it out in the ring. The lucrative event will clearly not feature Vince McMahon now.