According to a report by Forbes, in 2007 the WWE donated $4 million to the Trump Foundation, which brought in a total of $4.1 million in donations for the organization that year. For WWE, that donation amount would have equaled 8% of their net profits that year and being a publicly traded company, this would potentially be seen as a strange way to spend their money.
Forbes reached out to WWE and according to a spokesman, although the donation is listed as "WWE," the money came directly from Vince and Linda McMahon. WWE's annual report for that year didn't show any donation of that amount. 2007 was also the same year Vince McMahon and Donald Trump feuded on-screen, culminating in a "Hair vs. Hair" Match at WrestleMania 23 where Vince's wrestler (Umaga) lost to Trump's wrestler (Bobby Lashley). Vince's head was promptly shaved shortly after the match.
In 2009, even though The McMahons donated $0 to their own Vince & Linda McMahon Family Foundation, $1 million was donated to the Trump Foundation. Trump did not contribute anything to his foundation that year. Again, the Trump Foundation IRS filing listed "World Wrestling Entertainment" as the donors. Making the same mistake again just raised more questions, were these simply his appearance fees with the WWE? Former WWE COO's theorized on the donations:
Michael Sileck, who served as CFO and COO of WWE from 2005 to 2008, said he does not have any specific memory of the $4 million donation. "More likely it would have come from Vince personally," he said. "Vince and Linda were very generous."
Former COO Donna Goldsmith did not recall the two donations specifically, but she did offer a theory. Perhaps the money served as a payment for Trump's participation in the Battle of the Billionaires, also labeled the "Hair Versus Hair" match. "My guess is that it did come directly from Vince," said Goldsmith. "It was probably a payment for the 'Hair Versus Hair' match."
The Trump Foundation apparently accepted payments in connection with the president's participation in other media events. In 2011, Comedy Central gave the foundation $400,000, the same year it hosted a "roast" of Trump, in which celebrities lambasted him on TV. NBCUniversal, which aired Trump's reality show "Celebrity Apprentice," gave his foundation $500,000 the next year, more than enough to cover the charitable donations he promised to make on air, according to the Washington Post.But a WWE spokesman appeared to refute Goldsmith's theory. "The donations to the Trump Foundation were personal donations made by the McMahons and not tied to appearance fees," the spokesman wrote in an email. "Separate appearance fees were paid to Trump by WWE."
The McMahons and Donald Trump are connected going back to WrestleMania IV (1988) where the venue was referred to on-air as the "Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino" and Trump has since made sporadic appearances throughout the years. More recently, Linda McMahon was picked to head up Trump's Small Business Administration. Forbes attempted to reach out to the Trump Foundation as well as Vince and Linda McMahon (through the WWE spokesman), but did not receive a response from either party.