Saturday, April 13

Who Owns WWE

WWE fans are some of the most passionate and devoted fans on the planet, rivaling even massive fandoms such as Star Wars and Marvel Entertainment. However, a majority of those fans would be hard-pressed if asked to explain who exactly owns the company. While it is widely believed and accurate that Vince McMahon has historically been the most powerful person in the company, WWE’s corporate structure is much more complicated thanks to the company going public in 1999. Many internal changes have happened over the years that can be confusing to the average person but we hope to explain them a little bit here.



UPDATE: 2024/02/27 14:30 EST BY MICHAEL CHIN

For many years, even casual WWE fans were well aware of the WWE org chart insofar as it was clear Vince McMahon was on top. He steered the ship through the company’s national and global expansions, re-framed wrestling as sports entertainment, and elevated his promotion to greater and greater heights. Moreover, fans were aware of executive roles filled by figures such as Stephanie McMahon, Triple H, John Laurinaitis, Jim Ross, Nick Khan and others over the years.

Things changed dramatically in 2022 when a wave of scandal hit Vince, leaving him with a majority ownership share but retired from his executive role. He returned the year following, but between the sale to Endeavor and the scandal that hit Vince in early 2024, the picture at the top of the company is quite different now.


WWE Remains An Industry Giant That Likely Will Never Be Dethroned

WWE Continues To Stand Head And Shoulders Above Other Wrestling Promotions In Terms Of Resources And Reach

  • Despite what the Internet Wrestling Community says, WWE is and has been thriving as a business.
  • WWE is, to much of the world, synonymous with pro wrestling.
  • WWE has been publicly traded since 1999.

WWE is a global empire and while every month or so, the Internet Wrestling Community ponders upon the impending death of the company, the truth is, WWE is worth several billion dollars remains the most existentially safe wrestling promotion of all time.


Whatever fans may think of their on-screen television product, there is no disputing the claim that WWE is the first name in pro wrestling; much like the UFC is to the sport of MMA. WWE has been around for a long time and will continue to exist for the foreseeable future. The foundation of the publicly traded company is rock-solid and every few years or so, the company breaks new ground in terms of revenue and profit.

To start from the basics, WWE is a publicly traded company and transitioned from the private sector in October of 1999, with the price of one share estimated at $22 when it was first listed on the New York Stock Exchange. As of April 5th, 2023, one share was valued at $97.18 USD.

Prior To The Sale, The McMahon Family Had A Majority Of WWE’s Voting Power

Vince McMahon’s Ownership Stake Was Key To Him Returning To Executive Power In 2023

Vince McMahon Family


  • Prior to the Endeavor deal, Class B stock granted to McMahon family members had far greater value than Class A stock.
  • Shane McMahon purportedly sold off a high volume of shares in 2014.
  • Despite his executive role, Triple H’s ownership stake was minimal relative to his wife and in-laws.

Prior to WWE’s sale to Endeavor, Vince McMahon held about 37.6% of the total shares but his voting power was far higher, with his Class B shares granting him an estimated 83% of the voting power within the company. Moreover, Class B shares could only be held by descendants of Vince McMahon and Linda McMahon; more specifically, their children Stephanie and Shane. The former held about 1.9 million shares in the company, which translates to about 2% of the total shares.


Shane held a large portion of Class B shares in the past, but it is believed that he sold his shares in 2014 (H/T Wrestlenomics). Linda McMahon held 1% of the WWE shares, all of which were Class B. Lastly, Paul Levesque, more popularly known as Triple H, held 67,571 shares, a mere fraction of what his wife, Stephanie holds. Moreover, all of Triple H’s shares in the company are Class A, despite being married into the McMahon family. Safe to say, Triple H didn’t hold much voting power, and if he did, the value is very minuscule in comparison to the members of his in-laws.

Related

Triple H & Stephanie McMahon Sell Their WWE Stock, Backstage News On Why

Triple H and his wife Stephanie McMahon have sold some of their WWE stock. Here’s why.

Lindsell Train Limited is the biggest institutional owner of WWE shares, owning an estimated 14% of all shares and 3% percent of the voting power, which is a tad higher than that of Stephanie McMahon. This UK-based investment firm holds stocks in other entities as well, such as Manchester United, PayPal, and Disney. The Vanguard Group and Blackrock, Inc. are two other investment firms holding shares in the company. Both companies hold 5.5% of the shares and the same voting power, at one percent.


Class-B Stock Shares No Longer Exist Under WWE’s New Ownership

The Endeavor Deal Marked A Number Of Changes, Including The Dissolution Of The Terms Surrounding Class B Stock

  • Class B stock previously allowed the holder a 10x multiplier of voting power.
  • The termination of Class B stock shares protected Endeavor’s controlling interest over WWE moving forward.
  • The McMahon family has not had the final say on WWE business since the sale went through.

Editor’s note: It is worth noting that in the wake of the sale to Endeavor, the concept of Class-B stock shares is a thing of the past. As reported by Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics, an SEC (Securities & Exchanges Commission) filing shows that while Linda, Stephanie & Vince McMahon retained all of their shares, they will no longer hold the 10x multiplier of voting power as they did in the past. This would logically be so that Endeavor’s 51% controlling interest in the company remains firm and the McMahon family no longer has final say over the business operations of WWE.


Endeavor Buys WWE

The Sale Of WWE Was A Landmark Business Deal

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  • 2022 onward has been a remarkably tumultuous period for WWE behind the scenes.
  • In 2022, Vince McMahon announced his retirement from his executive role, though he returned in 2023.
  • Vince McMahon oversaw the sale of WWE to Endeavor.

To say that 2022, 2023, and 2024 have been crazy years behind the scenes for WWE is an understatement. In July 2022, Vince McMahon announced his retirement due to his involvement in sexual misconduct allegations. Triple H was named head of Creative, while Nick Khan and Stephanie McMahon became co-CEOs. However, in January, Vince McMahon forced his way back onto the WWE board to help sell the company. A week later, Stephanie resigned as CEO, leaving Khan as the sole CEO.


Related

Nick Khan’s Rise In WWE, Explained

In a short period of time, Nick Khan went from a Hollywood agent to the CEO of WWE.

Soon came rumors of an imminent WWE sale. Disney, ESPN, and Netflix were all thought to be major contenders. At one point there was a rumor that the Saudis had bought WWE, causing chaos on social media. Finally, on WrestleMania 39 weekend, the news broke. A name few had mentioned, Endeavor, the owners of UFC since 2016, would be buying WWE.

On April 3, 2023, Vince McMahon appeared with Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel on CNBC to announce the deal. It was revealed that WWE is valued at $9.3 billion, which was $300 million more than McMahon was asking for. When the TKO group launched, existing Endeavor shareholders held a 51% share of the company, with WWE shareholders making up the other 49%.

Emmanuel personally asked that McMahon stay on with WWE as its Executive Chairman, a decision that was criticized by many. It was said that Triple H will still be in charge of Creative. McMahon said of his own creative involvement, “Yes and no. On a higher level, yes. In the weeds, which, I always looked to get in the weeds in the past, no. Can’t do that.”


With there being reports as soon as Raw that night that McMahon was back in charge of Creative, it seemed WWE was in creative flux. Even before McMahon faced a new wave of troubling allegations in early 2024, though, the public understanding was that Triple H had more formally retaken the reins of creative, and continues to since McMahon left the company.

The Future Of WWE Leadership

The Picture Of WWE’s Future Ownership And Leadership Has Never Been Less Clear

  • Vince McMahon bought WWE from his father and presided over the company for roughly four decades.
  • Fans always assumed Vince McMahon would be succeeded by one of his children or his son-in-law.
  • The Endeavor deal, combined with scandal around Vince McMahon have made it unclear if his family will have much to do with company ownership or leadership in the future.


For decades, the prevailing understanding of how ownership and leadership of WWE would proceed seemed just as predetermined as pro wrestling itself. While some twists and turns were only natural, one of Vince McMahon’s children would be anointed his successor. Moreover, the more fans learned about the children of Stephanie McMahon and Triple H, as well as the children of Shane McMahon and Marissa Mazola-McMahon, it seemed clear their own offspring may well carry forward yet another generation of this family running the largest pro wrestling enterprise in the world.

Related

Why WWE Has Outgrown The McMahon Family

Vince McMahon created a global sports entertainment juggernaut, but with his scandals and the company flourishing, his family is no longer needed.

The Endeavor deal changed that narrative. While Triple H has remained a fixture at the creative helm of the company, the corporate structure means that it’s far from a foregone conclusion that someone from the McMahon family tree will remain in charge in the long term. That point only became clearer when the early 2024 round of scandal around Vince arose, including allegations of sexual assault and sex trafficking. Endeavor severed ties with him, and without a majority ownership stake, it seems unlikely he’ll ever return to power unless he can fully clear his name.


From there, while the McMahon family name once looked like a golden ticket to ensure a prominent place in the wrestling world, it increasingly feels as though it may be an albatross instead for future generations to overcome. Meanwhile, with Endeavor in charge, it also seems less likely current wrestlers and wrestling personalities will assume top leadership spots, let alone ownership roles, but rather that the company will live on as a truly corporate entity employing more traditional executives while wrestling people fill in roles that require more specific expertise down the chain of command.

The picture of WWE ownership and leadership has changed dramatically in the last two years and there’s every possibility more changes lie ahead. TKO executives will wield the power for the foreseeable future, and it will be fascinating to watch how wrestling changes as a result.

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