Facts About WWE Co-CEO Nick Khan Only Hardcore Fans Know

The path WWE co-CEO Nick Khan — who took on the role with the retirement of Vince McMahon — took to becoming one of the most powerful people in professional wrestling is one unlike any other. Though he only joined WWE in 2020 after a career in the entertainment industry, he quickly earned the trust of Vince McMahon, the company's former chairman and CEO, who hired Khan as WWE President. In the role of President & Chief Revenue Officer, Khan drew the ire of wrestling fans after a mass exodus of talent on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since he'd only recently entered the fold, many wrestling fans believed Khan to be behind the releases in an attempt to increase the profit margin to help facilitate a sale, though Paul "Triple H" Levesque dismissed the idea. 

Conspiracy theories also linked Nick Khan to AEW owner Tony Khan, though the two have no relation. With the dog days of the pandemic in the rear-view mirror, Khan has become slightly more visible and available for media, though much is still unknown about him, such as his age. Given his career timeline, fans can assume that Khan falls somewhere between the ages of 45 and 50, though this is merely an estimate. Khan is also married with a family, though he had managed to keep much of his personal life private. He has, however, dropped some interesting nuggets about his past in recent interviews, many of which should help wrestling fans grow to be more at peace with Khan being one of the three most powerful executives in WWE.

Here are nine facts about WWE co-CEO Nick Khan only hardcore fans know.

He grew up in Las Vegas

Nick Khan grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, among a family of Iranian immigrants, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, just miles away from the site of Allegiant Stadium. Khan took an interest in sports and entertainment as a child, eventually graduating from Bonanza High School and later the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. According to friend and media personality Doug Gottlieb, Khan waited tables to help put himself through law school. Khan told the Review-Journal that, while he would have considered re-enrolling at UNLV for his graduate degree, the William S. Boyd School of Law would not open until 1998, one year after Khan received his undergraduate degree. As a result, he packed his bags for Los Angeles, and earned his Master's from the University of Southern California before immediately joining the entertainment industry.

Khan has gone on to oversee WWE bringing marquee summer events to his hometown, first with "SummerSlam" at Allegiant Stadium in 2021 and then with "Money in the Bank" at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in 2022. During an interview with the Las Vegas Sun, Khan touted the city as a haven for marquee sporting events and discussed how it has gone massively overlooked by the major national leagues. He also spoke highly of the city's ability to appeal to everybody and how he would like his company to have its own unique place in the city's live sports culture. "To me, Vegas has always been a city that attracts everybody," Khan said. "Certain cities attract regional or local folks but not national or international, and Vegas has always been that." When WWE is not taking over Sin City, Khan still makes regular trips home to visit family.

He previously worked as a talent agent and lawyer

Nick Khan's 2020 arrival in WWE was not only his first foray into the business of pro wrestling, it also marked the first Chief Financial Officer (CFO) job of his career. As reported by the Fairfield County Business Journal, Khan spent the first two decades of his adult life working as a lawyer, and later an entertainment agent. Though the first seven years were spent in the field of law, one which Khan became acutely familiar with through his studies, he eventually decided to pivot industries. Khan made the decision to transition into a more hands-on field that did not require the same degree of "homework," as he described to MMA journalist Ariel Helwani. He would settle on becoming an agent, a profession he felt he could do for the rest of his career.

Per his interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Khan first transitioned to International Creative Management (ICM) in 2006, where he launched the company's Sports Media department and represented the biggest names in sports broadcasting and new anchoring. The Wrap reported that Khan went to work for CAA six years later, becoming the Co-Head of the Television Department. CAA is a massive name, representing more than 600 pro athletes altogether, including Lebron James, David Beckham, Peyton Manning and Tony Romo. Khan brought his own impressive client list to the agency and made his initial in-roads with WWE under the CAA banner. According to his WWE Corporate bio, he ended up negotiating lucrative media deals on behalf of companies and leagues such as the WWE, Southeastern Conference (SEC) and Top Rank Boxing, establishing himself as a true rising star in the profession. Through his initial dealings with WWE, Khan became close with Paul "Triple H" Levesque, Vince McMahon's son-in-law and the current head of creative. He received an invitation to "The Game's" 50th birthday party, hit it off with the McMahon family and subsequently took his talents to Stamford, Conn. "Nick is a seasoned media executive with a deep understanding of our business and a proven track record of generating significant value for sports and entertainment properties," the elder McMahon once said of Khan in a press release detailing his hiring.

He's been friends with The Rock for a long time

One fact fans may not know about is Nick Khan's lifelong friendship with Dwayne Johnson. The Rock is a former 10-time world champion in the ring, and outside the ring has evolved into one of the most sought-after names in Hollywood, as well as a legitimately successful businessman. Towards the end of 2021, The Rock had dinner with Khan and his sister, revealing they had all been friends since meeting in Hawaii as kids. "This one's special," Johnson wrote on his Instagram account. "Means a lot to me. Years in the making. Full circle. In the mid 1980's, Nick Khan, his sister Nahnatchka Khan and myself used to run around as kids in Honolulu, Hawaii every month when my grandmother would promote her pro wrestling shows at our local arena. As kids we LOVED the pro wrestling business and as adults, our love and respect for the wrestling business has become boundless."

Khan's relationship with "The Great One" brings up several questions regarding The Rock's future in WWE. With a longtime friend of his now acting as the company's co-CEO, might Johnson be more open to returning for one last match at WrestleMania? A match with cousin Roman Reigns could be in the cards, but even Khan admits such a match will be subject to Johnson's availability. "[Dwayne] is focused on being the megastar he's built himself into," Khan told Ariel Helwani. "We're always talking to him about different opportunities and what could come. We know that Rock can still do it at an A-plus level, but ultimately it comes down to all the boring business things: scheduling, when does it work, how long do we need him, how long does it take, what other commitments does he have, so we'll see." Johnson's relationship with the Khans also paved the way for WWE to accrue producer's credit on NBC's "Young Rock," so it will be interesting to monitor the ways in which both sides work together in the future.

He makes seven figures in his current role

For as many basic facts about Nick Khan that are still unknown to the public, his yearly wages are fair game. According to a new SEC filing by the company, Khan was recognized as one of four WWE executives to receive raises, along with Stephanie McMahon, Triple H, and new president Frank A. Riddick III. The co-CEO saw his yearly salary increase from $1.2 million to $1.35 million, his first bump in base pay since taking over as CFO in August 2020. However, 2020 marked a career earnings year for Khan, as the then-CFO of WWE received a $5 million sign-on bonus and an additional $6.8 million in stock awards, totaling nearly $13 million for the year.

Earlier this year, Khan received a $7.5 million equity raise, which is the exchange of a percentage of business ownership in return for capital or funds. Khan initially got a signing bonus of $15 million of value in stock with 40% vesting in this September and the rest vesting in 2025. Khan's annual pay is indicative of how highly Vince McMahon thought of him upon his arrival in the company, as well as his worth to the operation. One of his greatest achievements thus far in WWE has been the Peacock deal, which he helped negotiate. In return for Peacock, NBC's streaming app, becoming the home of the "WWE Network," the Associated Press reported that WWE will see approximately $1 billion in revenue over five years backdated to 2021. "There should be a home team, hometown discount," Khan told "The Town" podcast in April 2022. "That's just the way we look at it. When Peacock came so aggressively, even though there were other suitors for [the WWE Network], they wanted it. The numbers made sense. We wanted to give them the chance they had given us as a company."

He's been a wrestling fan his whole life

Hardcore fans will take comfort in learning that Nick Khan, himself, grew up as one of them. As a young boy of Iranian descent himself, Khan told Ariel Helwani he found a cultural hero in the Iron Sheik, a classic WWF villain. Despite the Sheik being despised by the vast majority of fans during the era, Khan and his sister loved the character, relating to some of the verbal barbs he would throw the way of wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan. In speaking with Helwani, Khan fondly remembered the years between WrestleMania I and III, which he and his family watched on closed circuit television in Los Angeles, where they were living at the time. These years also happened to be peak popularity years for the Iron Sheik.

"If you went to public school and grew up in the '80s, you loved wrestling," Khan told Helwani. "I watched every Saturday morning. I would try desperately to stay up for 'Saturday Night's Main Event.' You would go to your friend's house to watch the pay-per-view if your parents wouldn't buy the pay-per-view yet." Khan also told Helwani he is a longtime boxing fan, which, while containing fewer parallels to wrestling than mixed martial arts, does share a similar "big fight feel" with pro wrestling. Khan's wrestling fanhood may come as a surprise to some, but may also ease the minds of any who may think him to be an executive cut from the cloth of Vince McMahon Sr. Though he is not in any way involved with the creative direction of "Raw" and "Smackdown," Khan also seems to have at least taken an interest and understanding in how the creative of both shows correlates with the marketing and branding of the wrestlers. He recently opened up to "The Town" podcast on the company's recruiting practices and why it is so difficult to create new stars in 2022.

He worked WrestleMania IX as an usher

Long before his days of working as a professional wrestling executive, Nick Khan sought out other ways to get involved with one of his favorite childhood pastimes. In his interview with Ariel Helwani, Khan revealed that when WrestleMania came to his hometown of Las Vegas for WrestleMania IX, the then-undergraduate student at UNLV received an opportunity to work the event at Caesar's Palace. WrestleMania IX, memorable for its unique outdoor look and Roman coliseum theme, saw Hulk Hogan stand tall by show's end, quickly defeating Yokozuna in an impromptu match for the WWF Championship. Khan told Helwani his primary motivation for working the event was to attend the event with free admission. He wound up working the event as an usher, with the sole job of showing event attendees to their seats. With the lion's share of fans likely seated during the near entirety of the show, it is safe to say Khan got his money's worth in 1993.

He treats WWE as a meritocracy

Much has been made of the way Nick Khan sees WWE as a business. After taking the reins as the company's CFO in August 2020, Khan went on to oversee the release of 80 wrestlers in 2021. Fans wondered if these releases were a result of Khan being brought in to increase the company's profit margin by any means necessary in order to facilitate a future sale. While Khan admitted to John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal in early 2022 the company had taken calls about a potential sale, WWE was not in active conversations trying to sell the company and is not currently for sale. Additionally, Triple H defended Nick Khan over any potential role he had in the wave of releases, telling Ariel Helwani that Khan had "zero to do with those decisions." That said, Khan does bear some philosophical similarities to Vince McMahon.

Phrases such as "grab the brass ring" may have been associated with McMahon, but Khan seems to view the company in a similar light. "Number one, everyone is treated humanely and everyone deserves to be treated that way, " Khan told "The Town" podcast. "There are analogies with our company and other companies. Was Shaq treated better than any player on the team other than Kobe? Of course. That's the way it is. Will Smith wasn't grabbed and escorted out of the room [after slapping Chris Rock]. Part of it was, people didn't know what to do because they haven't experienced it before, but part of it is that he's Will Smith. Tough to have security grab him and toss him out of the building. It's the same way with us. It's a meritocracy. If you're at the top of the card, maybe you have a bigger dressing room than the person at the bottom of the card, but everyone has the same opportunity to earn their way there."

His sister has enjoyed a successful career in entertainment

Nick Khan is not the only member of the family who has made waves in the entertainment industry; he is the brother of Nahnatchka Khan, who is best known for co-creating the NBC comedy series "Young Rock," along with Jeff Chiang. She forged her own path in the entertainment industry, logging writer credits on a litany of shows dating back to the late '90s and early '00s. Nahnatchka Khan spent time working on shows such as "Pepper Ann," "Malcolm in the Middle" and "What I Like About You," before her career began to take off following a more extensive stint on Seth MacFarlane's "American Dad" (via IMDb). She worked in a variety of roles on the Fox animated sitcoms, serving as a producer for 24 episodes, supervising producer for 21 episodes, co-executive producer for 44 episodes, executive producer for 21 episodes and as a writer on an additional 10 episodes.

Following her seven-year stint on "American Dad," Nahnatchka Khan started to find some success with her own sitcoms. "Don't Trust the B—- in Apartment 23" originally aired as a midseason replacement on ABC, but it served as Nahnatchka Khan's first taste of showrunning. While her first sitcom would be short lived, her next outing, "Fresh Off the Boat," aired on ABC for six seasons. The show received positive critical reception and became the first network television sitcom in the United States to feature a family of Asian Americans as main characters in over 20 years. As a result, the show received numerous accolades and acknowledgements, including a nomination for the NAACP Image Award. Following the conclusion of "Fresh Off the Boat," Nahnatchka Khan transitioned over to NBC's "Young Rock" where she has worked ever since. Nahnatchka Khan also directed the 2019 romantic comedy, "Always Be My Maybe."

He's represented a number of high-profile clients

As Khan looked to pivot away from a career in law, he may have been the benefactor of some good luck. Khan detailed a story involving famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach on the "Colin Cowherd Podcast." Back when he worked as a lawyer, Khan received a call from Roach, who knew Khan from his days hanging out around Roach's Wild Card Boxing gym in Hollywood. The trainer needed representation in a multimillion dollar lawsuit stemming from a fight that saw him knock out a man nearly twice his size in a FedEx Kinko's. Khan represented Roach and won the case, leading the trainer to ask Khan to represent a young fighter of his in a contract dispute in 2006. The fighter was none other than Manny Pacquiao. All of a sudden, Khan found himself on the fast track to forging a prolific managerial career in sports and entertainment.

As the founder of the sports and news broadcaster division at ICM, Khan managed the "who's-who" of media personalities. According to Outkick, some of his clients included Adam Schefter, Max Kellerman, Mike Greenberg, Jalen Rose, Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd, Sage Steele, Rex Ryan, Joe Davis, Tom Rinaldi, Kevin Negandhi, and Allie LaForce. Khan also formerly managed MMA journalist Ariel Helwani. Outkick reported that Khan's departure from CAA left a "power vacuum" in the entire sports media industry because of how much power and influence he had attained. His former clients have also spoken of him in glowing terms. "[Khan's] relationships are unmatched, period, and they've been built on trust, truth and loyalty," ESPN's Rinaldi told the Sports Business Journal. "I was never just a client. Ever. And he's never been simply an agent. He's a friend I love."

Comments