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Vince McMahon steps down as WWE CEO while the company investigates alleged misconduct

WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon speaks at a news conference in January 2014.
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 08: WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon speaks at a news conference announcing the WWE Network at the 2014 International CES at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas on January 8, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The network will launch on February 24, 2014 as the first-ever 24/7 streaming network, offering both scheduled programs and video on demand. The USD 9.99 per month subscription will include access to all 12 live WWE pay-per-view events each year. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 10 and is expected to feature 3,200 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon is stepping aside away from the business side of the wrestling company while an investigation is conducted into an alleged hush-money payment to cover up sexual misconduct, the WWE and its board of directors announced Friday.

McMahon has run the company for 40 years after taking over for his father in 1982, when it was known as the World Wrestling Federation. He'll still maintain control of the WWE's creative output during the investigation, and the company announced he'd appear on Friday night's episode of SmackDown.

"I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the Special Committee, and I will do everything possible to support the investigation. I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are," McMahon said in the company's statement.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the board was investigating a $3 million payout made to a woman to cover up an alleged consensual affair between a WWE paralegal and McMahon, who has faced accusations of sexual misconduct in the past.

The newspaper reported that the board's investigation uncovered several other nondisclosure agreements reached in relation to other misconduct claims against McMahon and Head of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis by women who worked for WWE.

Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon, Vince McMahon's daughter and a WWE executive since 2006, will take over as CEO and chair of the board of directors in his absence.

The company said that in addition to investigating the allegations against McMahon and Laurinaitis, it also would hire an outside company to review the company's human resources department and overall culture.

The McMahon family has been involved in wrestling for more than a hundred years, and Vince McMahon regularly cast himself and his children as villains in the WWE's wrestling storylines. The company achieved a near-monopoly of the industry with the shutdown of World Championship Wrestling in 2001.

That has made the family billionaires, and they've used some of that money to get involved in Republican politics, including two failed runs for U.S. Senate seats by Linda McMahon, Vince's wife. She went on to serve as head of the Small Business Administration for two years under former President Donald Trump.

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