The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that $5 million of McMahon’s $19.6 million in unrecorded company expenses went to Trump’s charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, in 2007 and 2009.
The payments were made in years when Trump — who was a reality TV star on NBC’s “The Apprentice” at the time — made appearances at WWE events, including 2007’s WrestleMania 23 and WWE’s Monday night showcase “Raw,” in 2009.
The WWE earlier this month stated in a regulatory filing that the company had uncovered nearly $20 million of McMahon’s personal expenses that related directly to the wrestling company’s business and should have been disclosed to investors. Included in that sum was $5 million that was unrelated to the company’s investigation of his alleged misconduct, WWE said.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the $5 million went to Trump’s charity. A person who reviewed Trump’s 2007 WrestleMania contract told the Journal that “Mr. Trump directed Mr. McMahon to send a $4 million appearance fee to Mr. Trump’s charity.”
Trump’s appearance at WrestleMania in 2007 came during a “Battle of the Billionaires” match in which Trump and McMahon used wrestlers as stand-ins to duke it out in the ring. The winner of the match got to shave the head of the loser. Trump’s wrestler won, which led to him famously shaving McMahon’s head.
The WWE did not have a comment regarding the payments to Trump.
McMahon found himself in the middle of a corporate firestorm in June when the Wall Street Journal reported that the company’s board was investigating him for agreeing to pay a secret $3 million settlement to a former employee with whom he allegedly had an affair.
The Journal then reported in July that McMahon paid tens of millions of dollars to four women, including the one from the prior report, to cover up “allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity.”
This led to McMahon stepping down as CEO and eventually retiring from the company last month.
“As I approach 77 years old, I feel it’s time for me to retire as Chairman and CEO of WWE,” McMahon said in a statement.