Longtime World Wrestling Entertainment chief Vince McMahon paid over $12 million in hush money to four women in hopes of keeping them quiet about possible sexual misconduct, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Friday.
All four women had ties to WWE and their deals came with non-disclosure agreements, barring them from discussing their relationships with the 76-year-old pro wrestling icon, according to the Journal.
The Journal cited legal documents it has reviewed and interviews with people familiar with the pacts, which it says stretch back 16 years and involve payouts of $7.5 million, $3 million, $1 million and around $1 million. NBC News has not seen the documents cited or independently verified the agreements.
Just three weeks ago, WWE announced that McMahon had stepped back from his leadership responsibilities as the company investigates misconduct claims against him.
The board appointed McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie McMahon, as interim CEO and chairwoman until the probe’s conclusion.
Representatives for the WWE and McMahon could not be immediately reached for comment by NBC News on Friday.
McMahon released a statement in June pledging to cooperate with the WWE investigation.
“I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the Special Committee, and I will do everything possible to support the investigation,” McMahon said in a statement released by the Stamford, Connecticut-based company.
“I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are.”
The same day he released the June statement, McMahon appeared on the “WWE Friday Night SmackDown” broadcast with a brief address, saying he would like to remind fans of the sport’s “signature” words: “Then, now, forever, and the most important word is together.”
“Welcome to SmackDown,” he said, tossing his microphone.