According to the Wall Street Journal, WWE’s Board of Directors discovered that Vince McMahon donated $5 million to Donald Trump’s charity. The $5 million in payments were made in 2007 and 2009. Trump also appeared on WWE programming during those years. Trump appeared in the “Battle of the Billionaires” storyline in 2007, which led to McMahon shaving his head at WrestleMania 23. Trump appeared in a storyline in 2009 in which he purchased control of Monday Night Raw. Wrestlenomics.com’s Brandon Thurston mentioned the possible Trump connection last week. McMahon paid out $19.6 million in unrecorded expenses, including payments to Trump’s charity.
According to people familiar with the board investigation, the $5 million was for donations to the now-defunct Donald J. Trump Foundation. According to a WWE attorney, the payments to Trump should have been recorded as business expenses because McMahon was the primary shareholder and the payments benefited the company.
The story also stated that Trump had his associates review Trump’s contract for the WrestleMania 23 match to ensure that nothing was stated where he would have to get his head shaved, even if McMahon’s wrestler (Umaga) died in the ring.
“Mr. Trump and WWE entered into a contract whereby WWE agreed to and did pay him personally an appearance fee of $1 million,” Jerry McDevitt told the WSJ via email. “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.”
Trump reportedly received a $100,000 fee for his 2009 RAW appearance, and Linda McMahon made a $1 million donation to Trump’s foundation, according to McDevitt.
According to the report, Trump was known to donate his appearance fees for other events to his charity. According to his tax returns, Comedy Central donated $400,000 to the Trump Foundation in 2011. That year, Trump appeared on a roast.
The WSJ also mentioned the following:
“The $5 million was listed on the foundation tax returns as coming from WWE, but the company said in securities filings this month that the payments came from Mr. McMahon personally.
The $4 million sent by Mr. McMahon to the Trump charity in 2007 represented 98% of all contributions the foundation received that year, while the $1 million in 2009 amounted to 91% of the foundation’s receipts that year.”
In a settlement with the New York Attorney General’s office, Trump dissolved the company. In a 2018 lawsuit, the NYAG claimed that Trump used charity funds from his 2016 presidential campaigns to pay legal settlements and promote his business.