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WWE’s Vince McMahon served subpoena, search warrant amid federal probe

Investigators served a federal grand jury subpoena and search warrant last month against WWE head Vince McMahon, the company disclosed Wednesday, an unexpected wrinkle that comes as the company seeks to cinch a billion-dollar merger with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC.

The 77-year-old executive chairman of the WWE, the world’s largest and most influential professional wrestling company, has been dogged by allegations that he paid millions of dollars to women who accused him of sexual misconduct. News of a Securities and Exchange Commission probe into the matter broke in July 2022.

“We believe this is a continuation of the investigation that commenced last summer,” a spokesman for WWE told The Washington Post. “WWE has cooperated throughout and fully understands and respects the government’s need for a complete process.”

McMahon said in a statement provided by WWE that he has “always denied any intentional wrongdoing” and is confident the investigation will end without findings of misconduct.

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In addition to McMahon’s subpoena, WWE disclosed in its quarterly SEC report Wednesday that it had received “voluntary and compulsory legal demands for documents, including from federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies, concerning the investigation and related subject matters.”

This comes as all eyes are watching a high-profile merger with UFC’s parent company, Endeavor Group Holdings. The merger was announced in April. At the time, McMahon was set to serve as executive chairman of the board.

WWE expects the merger to wrap during the second half of this year, according to the SEC filing.

McMahon is so closely associated with WWE that any uncertainty with his status at the company has previously caused its stock price to fluctuate. The company’s stock price dipped a bit in July 2022 after McMahon announced he would retire in the wake of the allegations about him becoming public. When he announced he would return in January 2023, the share price spiked about 20 percent.

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The new $21 billion entertainment company does not yet have a name. The initial WWE merger announcement indicated Endeavor will own 51 percent and WWE shareholders will retain the rest. WWE has a companywide value of $9.3 billion, according to the announcement, and UFC’s value sits at $12.1 billion.

WWE ended 2022 with $195.6 million in net income, according to SEC filings. A sizable share of the company’s value comes from its television contracts, through which weekly programming is broadcast in 25 languages. Professional wrestling is available in 180 countries via NBC’s Peacock app, according to WWE’s website.

Beyond dollars and cents, the company also helped cement wrestlers Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and John Cena into household names.

McMahon has been the public face of the company since the early 1980s, shaping it into the media and live entertainment giant that it is today, with events held around the globe and its eight-decade cache of professional wrestling footage.

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