New Report Confirms Vince McMahon Made Improper Payments To Trump Foundation

A new report confirms past suspicions that Vince McMahon made improper payments to the Trump Foundation.

Wall Street Journal is reporting that an internal board investigation concluded that Vince McMahon made payments that totaled $5 million to the now-defunct Donald J. Trump Foundation (the New York Supreme Court ordered the foundation's dissolution in 2019). It's part of $19.6 million in unrecorded company expenses uncovered by the ongoing probe. Tax returns show that $4 million was contributed in 2007 and $1 million was given in 2009.

Trump appeared on WWE programming in 2007 for a headlining match at WrestleMania 23. During the event, reigning ECW Champion Bobby Lashley represented Trump while WWE Intercontinental Champion Umaga represented McMahon in the "Battle of the Billionaires", with the hair of the two entertainment icons on the line. Lashley won the match, leading to Trump shaving McMahon's head live on the show.

Trump returned to WWE in 2009 for a storyline purchase of "Raw". He would later sell the program back to McMahon at double the price.

Payments For Trump's WWE Appearances

A source told the Wall Street Journal that Trump's 2007 contract stipulated that McMahon would pay a $4 million appearance fee to the Trump Foundation. Trump claimed his appearance was so successful that McMahon agreed to give him an additional $1 million.

McMahon's attorney, Jerry McDevitt, didn't argue the total amount donated but said the $1 million wasn't a bonus but rather an appearance fee. He added that the $4 million was a personal contribution from the McMahon family and there was no bonus paid. McDevitt also stated that Trump was paid $100,000 for his 2009 appearances, with McMahon and his wife Linda making a $1 million personal contribution to the Trump Foundation.

McDevitt also stated that these payments should have been logged as business expenses, as McMahon was a primary shareholder and the payments were beneficial to the company (he did not elaborate on the manner in which they benefited the company). The $5 million was listed on tax returns from the foundation as coming from WWE, but securities filings this month stated that the payments came personally from McMahon.

The payments were made more than a decade before McMahon stepped away from WWE amid an investigation by the company's Board of Directors into millions of dollars of hush money paid to former female employees to silence allegations of sexual abuse, misconduct, and harassment. McMahon announced his retirement from the company in late July.