Former WWE chief executive Vince McMahon paid more than $US12 million ($17.5 million) to four women to cover up “allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity,” according to a Wall Street Journal report.
The women, all of whom were involved with WWE, signed agreements with billionaire McMahon that “prohibit them from discussing potential legal claims against or their relationships with the 76-year-old executive”.
The report of the hush money, which the Journal said was paid over 16 years, is the latest part of a corporate firestorm for McMahon, who is married with children.
One of the allegations in the Journal is from a former WWE wrestler who claimed McMahon coerced her into giving him oral sex.
According to the Journal, the woman said McMahon demoted her and declined to renew her contract in 2005 when she refused to engage in additional sexual encounters.
That woman and her legal team reportedly negotiated a $10.9 million settlement.
In 2008, a WWE contractor reportedly presented the wrestling company with nude photos she claimed McMahon had sent her.
She said McMahon had sexually harassed her, leading to a nondisclosure agreement and $1.4 million payout.
The earliest payout was reportedly given in 2006, when a former WWE manager was given $1 million to remain silent about an alleged sexual relationship with McMahon.
Last month another report from the Journal said the company’s board was investigating McMahon for agreeing to pay a secret $4.3 million settlement to a former employee with whom he allegedly had an affair.
That woman is among the four mentioned in the new report.
McMahon has been married to Linda McMahon since 1966.
The pair met in church when they were teenagers and now have two children, Shane and Stephanie.
The longtime WWE wrestling boss agreed to step back from his role as chairman and CEO while the investigation is ongoing.
“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 last month.
“I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are.”
McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie, is serving as interim CEO and chairwoman.
Yet McMahon, who has an estimated net worth of $3.3 billion, has not shied away from the spotlight.