Vincent Kennedy McMahon is an American wrestling promoter who is the current majority owner, chairman, and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). A former commentator, film producer, actor, and professional wrestler, Vincent took over WWE from his father in the 1980s, and transformed it from a regional company into a powerful national entity, bringing wrestling into the mainstream, and pioneering the use of pay-per-views in the matches. After taking over, he did everything to make WWE the number one wrestling entertainment business, from launching the most popular Attitude Era in the 1990s to purchasing his rival company World Championship Wrestling (WCW), to clashing with D-Generation X, and even his own children, Shane and Stephanie. This titan of the wrestling industry has faced several challenges and controversies, including being accused of bringing the outrageous nature of wrestling to a dangerous level, especially after the accidental death of the WWE's Owen Hart during a pre-match publicity stunt. Vincent’s controversial decision to continue the pay-per-view event after Hart's fatal fall earned him a number of enemies, and a lawsuit by Hart’s family.
Childhood & Early Life
Vincent McMahon was born on August 24, 1945, in Pinehurst, North Carolina, to Victoria and Vincent James McMahon. He had a difficult childhood.
His father was the founder of Capitol Wrestling Corporation which would dominate professional wrestling in the Northeastern US in the 1980s. Vincent’s paternal grandfather, Roderick James Jess McMahon, worked as a boxing and wrestling promoter.
Vince’s father left the family, taking along his elder son Rod, when Vincent junior was a baby. He was raised by his mother and a string of stepfathers. One of his stepfathers, Leo Lupton, used to beat his mother and him. Despite his father was being wealthy, Vincent grew up in severe poverty and under the worst circumstances.
He attended Fishburne Military School in Waynesboro, Virginia, and graduated from East Carolina University in 1968 with a degree in business administration. In his childhood, he suffered from dyslexia.
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Vince McMahon was introduced into the family business in 1971, when his father made him the head of Capitol's operations in Bangor, Maine. Next, he was made responsible for their New England-based operations. He was a major force behind the renaming of the company to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), now called WWE.
He made his debut as a commentator in 1971, and eventually became the regular play-by-play commentator and continued in the role till November 1997. Besides matches, he also hosted other WWF shows and introduced WWF programming to TBS.
In 1979, he and his wife bought the Cape Cod Coliseum and the Cape Cod Buccaneers of the Atlantic Coast Hockey League. They also sold rock concerts by Van Halen and Rush.
In 1980, he and his wife Linda founded the company, Titan Sports, which was later incorporated in the Capitol Wrestling Co., which he bought from his ailing father, who died in 1984.
With the vision to make WWF a national entity, he split WWF from the National Wrestling Alliance a second time in 1983 (the first time it was split in 1963). He began expanding the company nationally by promoting in areas outside of Northeast US by signing talents from other companies like American Wrestling Association (AWA). He signed Hulk Hogan and used him as the ambassador to promote his brand.
In 1984, he created the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection by incorporating pop music stars into wrestling storylines, expanding its fanbase into a national mainstream audience as the promotion was featured on MTV. In March 1985, the first WrestleMania was aired on TV throughout the US.
He shifted the focus of WWF towards a more adult-oriented model called ‘WWF Attitude’, and he himself got involved in WWF storylines. As a result, WWF found itself in the midst of the national pop-culture, drawing millions of viewers for its weekly Monday Night Raw broadcasts on cable television.
In 1990, he founded the bodybuilding organization World Bodybuilding Federation. In 1993, he was portrayed as a villain in WWF, when he was involved in a feud with Jerry Lawler, as he wanted to dethrone him as the "king of professional wrestling". The highlight of the feud was when Tatanka defeated Lawler to win the USWA Championship. However, the feud ended abruptly when Lawler was accused of raping a girl and was dropped from WWF. However, the girl later stated that the accusation was not true.
In 2000, Vince McMahon launched a professional American football league XFL. However, the league was discontinued after one season due to low television ratings. In 2001, ECW, a national wrestling company, went out of business, and Vincent bought the assets of the company in the bankruptcy court.
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In May 2002, WWF was renamed as WWE. In 2005, he used the name ECW in a DVD and one time PPV event. Owing to popular demand, in 2006 WWE bought back the name as a third brand for the company.
In February 2014, he launched WWE Network. Today, WWE programs are broadcast in about 150 countries and in more than 30 languages.
Awards & Achievements
Vince McMahon has been honored with a number of awards during his career. The Guinness World Records named him the Oldest WWE Champion in 1999. He was inducted in the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in 2011.
Besides winning the ECW World Championship, WWF Championship, and Royal Rumble, he has earned several Pro Wrestling Illustrated championships and Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards.
Controversies & Scandals
In 1992, Rita Chatterton, a former referee in WWF, accused McMahon of raping her in his limousine. In 2006, a worker in a tanning bar in Boca Raton, Florida, accused him of sexual harassment.
In 1993, he was riddled in a legal battle following a steroid controversy during a promotion, and he was forced to cede the control of WWF to his wife Linda. When trial started in 1994, he was accused of distributing steroids to his wrestlers. He was acquitted of the charges, and resumed his role in the day-to day operations of the WWF.
Vince McMahon is married to Linda, who is the former WWE CEO, and current American SBA Administrator. He first met her when she was 13 and he was 16, and got married a few years later on August 26, 1966. They have a son, Shane, and a daughter Stephanie. He is the father-in-law of WWE executive/wrestler Paul Triple H Leveque.
Both his children, Shane and Stephanie, are involved with WWF/E, both onscreen and behind the scenes. While Shane left the company on January 1, 2010, and returned in 2016, Stephanie is active in an onscreen and backstage role.
McMahon owns a $12 million penthouse in Manhattan; a $40 million mansion in Greenwich; a $20 million vacation home; and a 47-foot sports yacht. In 2001, he was listed as a billionaire.
In May 2014, his net worth dropped to $750 million after WWE stock fell $350 million. However, in 2015, he recovered his loss, and reported to have a worth of $1.2 billion. In 2017, he was back in the ring with the world's richest after a 50 percent jump in WWE's stock.
He donated $5 million to Donald J. Trump Foundation. He also donated over $8 million in grants to the Fishburne Military School, Sacred Heart University, and East Carolina University.