What Life's Really Been Like For Stephanie McMahon, The Billion Dollar Princess

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Former WWE executive Stephanie McMahon Levesque is arguably the most versatile asset in company history. Her accolades speak for themselves. She had an eye on working for her father, Vince McMahon, since she was a little girl. Now 46, Stephanie has seen it all. She became one of the most over heels during the company's peak years in the late '90s and early '00s while climbing the corporate ladder behind the scenes. Despite growing up in the wrestling business, Stephanie had very little handed to her and got to experience all angles of the WWE behind the scenes. Eventually, she became the company's chairwoman and co-CEO, performing in the role during her father's short-lived retirement in the second half of 2022. She even married her on-screen husband, Paul "Triple H" Levesque, forming one of wrestling's greatest power couples of all time.

McMahon's professional versatility allowed her to dip her toe into other areas, such as philanthropy and creative writing. Along the way, she became the mother to three daughters and has set a great example as a pioneer for women leaders in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Recently, she surprisingly vacated her position as chairwoman and co-CEO of WWE, bringing an end to one of the most accomplished executive careers in company history, at least for the time being.

Here are a few personal and professional highlights that paint the picture of what life has been like for Stephanie McMahon, "The Billion-Dollar Princess."

Childhood and Education

Stephanie Marie McMahon, born in Hartford, Connecticut on September 24, 1976, grew up alongside her brother, Shane, under the watch of her parents, Vince and Linda McMahon. The McMahon children did not necessarily grow up with the wealth their family later became known for. In fact, her parents filed for bankruptcy the year she was born, and it would not be until 1982 that Vince purchased Capitol Wrestling, the parent company of the World Wrestling Federation, from his father, Vincent J. McMahon. However, by the time Stephanie became old enough to attend Greenwich High School, the WWF had long since taken off as the industry-leading company.

"It used to bother me when I was growing up that people would either really, really like me because I was Vince McMahon's daughter or really not like me," McMahon told "The Corp with Big Cat and A-Rod." "It bothered me that I was not judged for me. If people didn't like me, that's okay, but don't not like me because of my dad. My dad told me, 'Steph, not everybody's going to like you. That's just the way the world works. But if you can look yourself in the eye, in the mirror, and know that you're a good person, that's all that matters.'" After graduating from high school, McMahon attended Boston University, where she graduated with her Bachelor's Degree in Communications in 1999. She returned to BU in 2013 to accept the 2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award and once gave a master class on brand building for the BU College of Communication.

Wearing Different Hats

While Stephanie McMahon attended high school and college, she actually got her start working for her father's company at the age of 13, modeling merchandise for wrestlers such as The Rockers and The British Bulldogs. She also answered phones for the WWF call-in talk show, "Livewire," in the mid-'90s. She never envisioned herself doing anything other than working for WWE. "I always wanted to be a part of the family business," McMahon told "The Corp with Big Cat and A-Rod." "It's what we talked about at the dinner table. I didn't have a nanny, so my parents just brought me everywhere. I was always a part in some way of all these different meetings. I was going to conferences. I was always around it and it was what I always wanted to do."

Upon graduating from Boston University, the younger McMahon sibling went straight to work for her parents' company, beginning her career as an account executive for the WWE sales office in New York City while simultaneously beginning her career as an on-screen personality. She also worked as a receptionist during the early portion of her professional career with the company. Her husband, Triple H, told ESPN that she still remembers all the building's extensions to this very day. She later went on to hold more substantial behind-the-camera roles in creative design and television production. As a result, her formative years in the company instilled in her a unique sense of how the company functions at all levels.

The Billion Dollar Princess

After going to work for her father's company in 1999, Stephanie endeared herself to a handful of important people backstage, namely WWF head writer Vince Russo. According to Russo in his book, "Forgiven: One Man's Journey from Self-Glorification to Sanctification," he suggested to Vince McMahon that Stephanie become an on-screen character. The resulting character started as an innocent young girl, who through a handful of irreverent storylines evolved into "The Billion-Dollar Princess." The moniker came to be during her involvement in a storyline that became known as "The McMahon-Helmsley Era." It was during this time she became better acquainted with her future husband, Triple H. Early Stephanie McMahon storylines included being abducted by The Undertaker, a love triangle with Triple H and Kurt Angle and her subsequent "divorce" from Triple H. She also had a prominent role during the infamous "Invasion Angle" as the "owner" of ECW.

Similarly to her father, another non-wrestler, "The Billion-Dollar Princess" became a heat magnet for WWE. She did not shy away from controversial segments, even if it meant a babyface like Steve Austin, The Rock, or Chris Jericho getting one over on her. Like Vince, Stephanie also dabbled between the ropes, winning the WWF Women's Championship in March 2000. She held the belt for 146 days before dropping the strap to Lita in a match that featured The Rock as the guest referee. The character later evolved into a babyface authority figure on "WWE SmackDown" where she presided during one of the show's most critically-acclaimed eras. McMahon would then embark on an extended hiatus as an on-screen character before returning as the "WWE Raw" general manager between 2008 and 2009. Her last prominent run occurred between 2013 and 2018 as a member of her husband's heel faction, "The Authority," and as a heel authority figure on "Raw."

Relationship with Triple H

One of the defining aspects of Stephanie McMahon might be her longstanding relationship with her husband, Paul Levesque, better known to wrestling fans as Triple H. The two became acquainted with one another during their first storyline together. Triple H was notably in a relationship with another talent, Chyna, around the time, though McMahon told Howard Stern in 2002 that the Triple H and Chyna were not dating at the time her relationship with Triple H began. Stephanie went on to say that she, too, became better acquainted with "The Game" while she was in a relationship of her own. She referred to Triple H as being "very flirtatious" upon meeting her and that he would drop hints that would make her question whether or not he was flirting with her. "[Vince] could see [what was going on]," McMahon told Stern. "He gave us the okay, and then he took it away. He let us come together, and then he made us be apart, then we came back together again. If it was meant to be, it was meant to be. There were a lot of factors involved."

Stephanie McMahon and Triple H were officially married on October 25, 2003, at St. Teresa of Avila Church in Sleepy Hollow, New York. Reportedly 320 co-workers and friends attended the ceremony. The two former on-air talents will enjoy their 20th wedding anniversary in October 2023 and have three children together, all daughters. All the while, the husband and wife duo became the number one power couple in wrestling, with McMahon holding various executive titles while Triple H, a member of WWE's corporate picture for more than a decade, went on hold positions on the WWE Board of Directors.

WWE Creative

After nearly two years of appearing as a regular on-screen character on "Raw" and the company's fledgling second show "SmackDown," McMahon took the helm as the head writer of WWE in November 2000, replacing Chris Kreski. On Sports Business Journal's "I Factor," she recalled being put in charge of creative after spending just two weeks as a member of the writing staff. She was promoted twice while serving as the company's head writer, and most notably oversaw the passing of the torch from wrestlers such as The Rock and Steve Austin to future stars such as John Cena and Batista.

Several former writers have detailed their time working with Stephanie when she was as Head of Creative, including former writer and producer Robert Karpeles in a recent interview with Wrestling Inc.'s Senior News Editor Nick Hausman. "It's a recognizable figure. And within about a minute and a half, two minutes, she becomes an incredibly relatable, very, very nice person," Karpeles said. "We were arguing over who had the worst dorm room in college. So it was very weird. She was a fantastic boss who caught a lot of flack unnecessarily. I think just the nature of being in that role and that idea of, 'Well, your last name is your last name and if you weren't here it would be,' fill-in-the-blank." Karpeles also mentioned that while McMahon's official title was that of head writer, she ultimately served as the go-between for the creative teams on "Raw" and "SmackDown" and Vince McMahon. 

Climbing the Corporate Ladder

The position of "Head Writer" evolved through the years while McMahon occupied it. She received a promotion to Senior Vice President of Creative Writing in 2006, and another promotion to Executive Vice President, Talent and Creative Writing in 2007. While handling the latter role, her old WWE Corporate bio labeled her as responsible for overseeing the creative process for all WWE television shows and pay-per-views, as well as the talent relations department. Her role at the time is not too dissimilar with the role her husband, Triple H, currently handles as the company's Chief Content Officer. McMahon's hard work and persistence behind the scenes began to pay dividends for the company, as she helped lead the integration of the WWE app as smart phones became more prevalent.

As McMahon's involvement began to grow in other company initiatives such as the WWE Anti-Bullying Campaign created in 2011 (Be a STAR), she began to phase herself out as the creative go-between for the writers and her father. On December 4, 2013, McMahon was promoted once again, this time as the company's first-ever Chief Brand Officer. McMahon would spend the ensuing nine years as Chief Brand Officer where she led the efforts to further WWE's brand reputation in the media world. As Chief Brand Officer, McMahon became one of the highest-ranking executives in the company, and was promoted again after returning to the company as chairwoman and co-CEO in summer 2022. 

McMahon's professional story is one of someone who successfully climbed the corporate ladder like any other employee despite, donning the last name "McMahon."

Brand Ambassador Exploits and Women's Role Model

Considering all of the job titles she occupied over her near 25-year run in WWE, Stephanie McMahon's professional contributions are perhaps most evident in her nine-year run as Chief Brand Officer. In the newly-created role, McMahon bettered WWE's reputation among key constituents such as advertisers, business partners and investors. Upon taking on the new role, she helped spearhead WWE continued partnership with brands such as Totino's and Crickett Wireless. McMahon also teamed up with KABOOM!, a non-profit organization, to deliver a playground to the Woodland West Elementary School in Harvey, Louisiana. She is also the co-founder of Connor's Cure, and later helped improve WWE's footprint overseas, announcing new rights deals for the company in countries such as Thailand and Australia.

All the while, McMahon established herself as a positive role model for women working in male-dominated industries. In a 2021 interview with NBC News' Know Your Value, McMahon commented that she never previously saw gender as an issue in the corporate side of wrestling because her mother, Linda, operated as the company CEO for 22 years. McMahon then detailed a story about speaking up about the importance of the physicality of a match and the lesson she learned about making her voice heard, regardless of gender. "I proved I had value in a room where it had previously not been thought that a woman could contribute in that way," McMahon said. "We [women] all have those conversations with ourselves about why we shouldn't speak. But this gave me the confidence that I needed, and now I always tell other women: Use your voice. Don't be meek. You belong in any room you want to be in — but you have to use your voice to be heard."

Motherhood

As someone who has been among the most recognizable faces for WWE's corporate strategy over the last decade, McMahon has raised, along with Triple H three daughters: Aurora Rose Levesque (born 2006), Murphy Claire Levesque (born 2008), and Vaughn Evelyn Levesque (born 2010). As of October 2022, the family resides in a $30 million Weston, Connecticut mansion and are neighbors of Stephanie's father, Vince McMahon, according to The U.S. Sun. After all three children were born, Triple H started adopting his family into his ring gear, with the initials of his daughters and wife embroidered on his trunks and elbow pads for his WrestleMania 30 match with Daniel Bryan.

While few details are known publicly about the three children's of wrestling's premier power couple, the idea has been floated that they could follow in their parents' footsteps and take on roles within the company down the line. "I would encourage them to follow their passion and whatever they believe in as long as they work hard at it," McMahon said on a 2019 episode of Fox Sports' "First Things First." "I believe in a strong work ethic and I believe they can do anything in the world they want to do but they are going to have to believe in themselves and work hard." With her WWE duties seemingly in the rearview mirror, McMahon will have more time to spend with her teenage daughters as the move on to the next phase of their lives.

Philanthropy

Philanthropy has played a large role in Stephanie McMahon's adult life, and through the years has incorporated her philanthropic mindset into her role as Chief Branding Officer. In a video for Inc., McMahon explained how the importance of giving back galvanized her team with WWE. "When you engage with kids or cancer survivors, the energy that you feel from giving back is just the most rewarding thing you can do," McMahon said. "I almost feel it's such an important part of life, let alone business to give back." Sometimes, McMahon's philanthropic exploits have gone too far in its association with her role in WWE. She once quoted Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, tweeting that, "Philanthropy is the future of marketing."

Nevertheless, McMahon's philanthropic efforts have done plenty of good for those around her. She helped spearhead or further develop WWE partnerships with charitable organizations such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Susan G. Komen, the Special Olympics, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. With the support of WWE at her back, McMahon and Triple H also created Connor's Cure, a cause she says is personal to her. "[Connor's Cure] is designed to fund a cure for pediatric brain and spinal cancer," McMahon told Inc. "It's all based on this one fan, Connor Michalek, an eight-year-old little boy who absolutely stole our hearts. He didn't make it, but we have the opportunity now to give back and to help any other child or family from enduring what Connor had to go through." In her personal life, McMahon has been every bit as active with charitable donations. She donated $900,000 to the ChadTough Foundation in 2021 and teamed up with Triple H in 2019 to donate one million dollars to the UPMC Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

First Leave of Absence

If the idea of Stephanie McMahon stepping away from WWE sounds familiar, it is likely because it is not the first time it happened in recent memory. McMahon, who served as the company's Chief Branding Officer for nine years, dropped a bombshell when she announced a leave of absence from WWE. "As of tomorrow, I am taking a leave of absence from the majority of my responsibilities at WWE," McMahon tweeted on May 19, 2022. "WWE is a lifelong legacy for me and I look forward to returning to the company that I love after taking this time to focus on my family." Stephanie's first leave was conspicuous in that it coincided with reports and comments from various news outlets suggesting her job performance played a role in her decision to step away.

"One person with extensive knowledge of that aspect of the story said that they believed Stephanie McMahon being buried was a pre-emptive move to preserve the stock price," The Wrestling Observer Newsletter noted (h/t TJR Wrestling). However, McMahon's leave from WWE was short-lived, as the company soon reinstated her as the then-interim Chairwoman of WWE as well as the company's co-CEO, a role she performed in tandem with former WWE President & Chief Revenue Officer Nick Khan. Stephanie's return to WWE coincided with the seemingly forced retirement of her father, former Chairman Vince McMahon who became the subject of an internal investigation of a $3 million payment made between himself and a former female employee on company dime. While the elder McMahon initially intended to stay on as Head of Creative, he ultimately abdicated his duties, opening the door for Stephanie to appoint her husband, Triple H, to the newly created title of Chief Content Officer.

Final Days in WWE

Stephanie McMahon held the title of Chairwoman and Co-CEO of WWE for approximately six months before announcing her resignation from the company on January 10, 2023. "WWE is in such a strong position that I have decided to return to my leave and take it one step further with my official resignation," McMahon wrote in a letter circulated to her social media channels. "I look forward to cheering on WWE from the other side of the business, where I started when I was a little kid, as a pure fan." Following her resignation, she took to social media to announce she also underwent successful ankle surgery the week of her resignation

The news of Stephanie's resignation came after news broke that her father and former chairman, Vince McMahon, was forcing his way back onto the Board of Directors along with former board members George Barrios and Michelle Wilson. The elder McMahon officially returned to the Board of Directors on January 6, 2023. Stephanie also indicated in an all-employee Zoom meeting three days prior to her resignation that the company's management structure would remain unchanged, opening the door for further speculation regarding her sudden departure. Meanwhile, rumblings also began to circulate about a potential WWE sale and how Stephanie McMahon's resignation may have had to do with that. According to Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful Select, the company is being shopped around to prospective buyers, though a potential sale will have several hurdles to clear before becoming official, regardless of the buyer. Whether a hidden narrative is at play is up for speculation, though Stephanie indicated in her resignation letter a desire to focus on her family.

Future and Legacy

Given her recent resignation from WWE, how Stephanie McMahon will allocate her time is currently unknown. In her resignation letter, she cited a desire to spend more time around her family. However, given the unpredictable nature of the pro wrestling business, a return to the corporate lifestyle cannot be completely ruled out, though there are a few clues that could indicate what is next for Stephanie. Her oldest daughter, Aurora Rose, has expressed a desire to become both a wrestler and executive for her family's company. Shortly before tendering her resignation, McMahon also hinted at WWE potentially dipping its toe into the boxing industry while speaking at the Wells Fargo 2022 TMT Summit. Additionally, she announced on her Twitter account in 2016 that she began writing her memoir with a target release date of 2020 — a year that came and went with no book. With her life situation having changed dramatically in recent weeks, McMahon might now have the opportunity to finish her memoir, which could be one of the most anticipated wrestling books of all time.

No matter how Stephanie McMahon decides to spend the rest of her life, her legacy appears to be set in stone. She held a higher quantity of job titles than perhaps any employee to ever walk through the doors of Titan Tower and evolved into the most powerful woman in the history of the business. When her promising executive career seemingly came to an end in 2022, she returned to the company as chairwoman and became a stabilizing force in the wake of her father's "retirement" for the remainder of the year. As impressive as her professional exploits are, however, she will perhaps be equally remembered for portraying "Stephanie McMahon," the on-screen character who will live forever through clips and re-runs on the WWE Network. 

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