Vince McMahon (L) and Donald Trump attend a press conference about the WWE at the Austin Straubel International Airport on June 22, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Mark A. Wallenfang | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images
Former World Wrestling Entertainment boss Vince McMahon paid $5 million of around $20 million previously unrecorded expenses to Donald Trump’s foundation in 2007 and 2009, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.
The report comes weeks after McMahon retired as CEO of the company amid investigations into hush payments he made related to alleged sexual misconduct. WWE has since said its board’s independent probe into the matter is “substantially complete.”
While the majority of the $20 million in payments went to women who accused McMahon and another WWE executive of sexual misconduct, another $5 million was used for unrelated purposes, according to a recent securities filing.
The $5 million represented charitable donations to the now-dissolved Donald J. Trump Foundation, the Journal reported, citing sources. The donations were given during two years that Trump made appearances on televised WWE events.
The WWE didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
Trump dissolved this foundation as part of a settlement with the New York state attorney general’s office in 2018, when a lawsuit alleged Trump had misused the charity’s funds for his 2016 presidential campaign, to pay legal settlements and promote his business.
This news comes less than a month after the Securities and Exchange Commission and federal prosecutors launched probes into the $14.6 million in payments made by McMahon to settle allegations of sexual misconduct.
The $5 million in contribution payments should have been cataloged as business expenses, because McMahon was a principal shareholder and the payments benefited the company, an attorney for WWE told WSJ.
The first of the two appearances resulted in a $1 million fee for Trump and a personal contribution from the McMahons of $4 million to his foundation. For his second appearance, Trump was paid $100,000 and McMahon and his wife, Linda, donated $1 million to the foundation.
While the $5 million was listed on the foundation tax returns as coming directly from WWE, the company said in its security filings this month that the payments came directly from McMahon personally.
Vince McMahon is still the top shareholder in WWE despite having left the company. He bought the comapny from his father about 40 years ago and turned it into a global powerhouse. His daughter, Stephanie McMahon, is now working as co-CEO, along with executive Nick Khan.
Linda McMahon served as Small Business Administration chief in Trump’s Cabinet. Trump, who hosted two Wrestlemania events in Atlantic City in the 1980s, is enshrined in the WWE’s Hall of Fame.