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By Mike Johnson on 2022-08-17 18:48:00

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the $5 million in additional payments made by Vince McMahon that should have been recorded as official WWE company expenses were made to Donald Trump’s Charity in exchange for his appearances at Wrestlemania 23 in Detroit in 2007 and Monday Night Raw during the shelved storyline that Trump had "purchased" the USA Network franchise from McMahon in 2009.

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

The tax returns for the Trump Foundation in 2007 and 2009 show contributions of $4 million and $1 million, respectively, from WWE.  Those years match up with the years of Trump's WWE appearances.

In regard to Trump's Wrestlemania 23 appearance, built around hair vs. hair stipulation for the McMahon-managed Umaga vs. Bobby Lashley, who had Trump in his corner, "A person who reviewed Mr. Trump’s contract for the WrestleMania appearance said that Mr. Trump directed Mr. McMahon to send a $4 million appearance fee to Mr. Trump’s charity, " reported The WSJ.  "Mr. Trump had his associates review the contract to ensure that under no circumstances would Mr. McMahon be allowed to shave his head, even if Mr. Trump’s wrestler dropped dead in the ring, this person said."

The article noted that Trump had publicly boasted he was bonused an additional $1 million because of the success of Wrestlemania 32, but WWE's longtime attorney Jerry McDevitt shot down that claim, noting, "“Mr. Trump and WWE entered into a contract whereby WWE agreed to and did pay him personally an appearance fee of $1 million.   At the same time, the McMahons made a personal contribution to the Trump Foundation of $4 million. There was no additional fee paid to Mr. Trump, or any additional contribution to the Trump Foundation, due to the success of the event.”

The Trump Foundation charity was shut down as part of a settlement with the New York state attorney general’s office in 2018 after allegations that Trump had "misused the charity funds to further his 2016 presidential campaign, pay legal settlements and promote his business."

WWE's Board of Directors investigation led to Vince McMahon announcing he was retiring from his duties from the company.  The Wall Street Journal reported today that McMahon's exit came after "The Securities and Exchange Commission and federal prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York" began to look into the payments.  

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