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Aug. 17, 2022, 6:53 p.m. EDT

WWE internal probe finds ex-CEO Vince McMahon gave $5 million to Trump’s charity

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Joe Palazzolo, Ted Mann

Contributions totaling $5 million to Donald Trump’s charity in 2007 and 2009 were among $19.6 million in unrecorded company expenses Vince McMahon paid out before he stepped down from World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. amid misconduct allegations, an internal board investigation found.

In securities filings this month, WWE /zigman2/quotes/207109722/composite WWE +1.42%  said that the roughly $20 million that came out of McMahon’s pocket should have been disclosed, because the transactions benefited the company he ran. While the bulk of the payments  went to women who accused McMahon  and another WWE executive of sexual misconduct, the company said in the filings that the $5 million was unrelated to such allegations but didn’t state its purpose.

People familiar with the board investigation said the $5 million represented charitable donations to the now-dissolved Donald J. Trump Foundation in the same two years that the then-real-estate developer made appearances at WWE televised events.

McMahon retired as chairman and CEO  last month, ending his four-decade tenure as the head of the company that he and his wife, Linda McMahon, built into wrestling’s biggest business.

An attorney for WWE said the payments to Trump should have been booked as business expenses because McMahon was a principal shareholder and the payments benefited the company. He declined to say why the payments benefited WWE.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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