(Warning: This story contains explicit allegations of sexual misconduct.)
WWE founder Vince McMahon has resigned from his role as executive chairman of TKO Group Holdings, the parent company of the WWE and UFC, amid allegations of rape, assault and sex trafficking, according to Deadline.
McMahon was accused of the misconduct in a lawsuit filed in federal court on Thursday by former WWE employee Janel Grant. The 78-year-old was named as a defendant alongside the WWE and John Laurinaitis, its former head of talent relations.
In his statement announcing his resignation, McMahon again denied Grant's claims but said he was stepping down out of respect for his company.
“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 in response to the lawsuit. “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,” the WWE co-founder added.
A statement from WWE president and TKO director Nick Khan confirmed McMahon will no longer have a role with the company he co-founded in 1982.
This isn't the first time McMahon has stepped away amid a cloud of sexual misconduct accusations. He announced what turned out to be a temporary retirement in 2022 after a report accused him of paying a total of $12 million to cover up various allegations, with sums allegedly paid to four women. McMahon was accused of, among other things, coercing a former female wrestler into giving him oral sex and sexually harassing a female employee.
Grant's accusations were even more disturbing.
The lawsuit, posted by Deadline, alleges McMahon coerced the 43-year-old into a sexual relationship, shared naked images of her with senior WWE staffers and forced her into group sex situations that saw her described as a "b****" and resulted in physical injuries. Those situations allegedly included the crossing of state lines, resulting in the trafficking claim.
Grant also alleged McMahon defecated on her head during a threesome and told her not to shower for an hour and a half. In another alleged incident, McMahon and Laurinaitis were accused of sexually assaulting Grant in an office at WWE headquarters, forcing themselves on her while saying “No means yes” and “Take it, b****.”
The situation allegedly resulted in a $3 million payout to Grant in 2022 in exchange for her signing an NDA. Grant is now seeking to nullify that NDA and says she has received only $1 million from McMahon so far. The lawsuit contains screengrabs of texts purportedly from McMahon.
The lawsuit and McMahon's resignation came at a pivotal time for TKO, which announced a $5 billion deal with Netflix on Tuesday and has one of the WWE's highest-profile events, "Royal Rumble," scheduled for Saturday.