WWE’s ties to Donald Trump are public and well-known, dating all the way back to the early days of WrestleMania. A new report suggests that the company helped in a big way several years back as well. Forbes reports that the company was the biggest supporter of the Trump Foundation, giving a total of $5 million to the organization between 2007 and 2009.
Of that, $4 million was in 2007, a year in which the company had a total of $4.1 million in donations. According to the site, that donation totalled 8% of WWE’s net profits for that year. All of the information came from financial information that the Foundation has submitted to the Internal Revenue Service.
According to a spokesman for WWE, while the donation is listed as “WWE” the money actually came directly from Vince and Linda McMahon. WWE’s annual report for 2007 shows no donation of that amount. Trump appeared at WrestleMania 23 that year and was part of the big “Hair vs. Hair” Match pitting Lashley against Umaga. Umaga lost, which meant that McMahon’s head was shaved on camera after the match.
The article adds that in 2009, the McMahons donated nothing to their own Vince & Linda McMahon Family Foundation and $1 million to the Trump Foundation. The IRS filing again lists “World Wrestling Entertainment” as the donors.
Speaking with the site, former CFO and COO Michael Sileck said he does not have any specific memory of the $4 million donation and said, “More likely it would have come from Vince personally. Vince and Linda were very generous.”
Former COO Donna Goldsmith also didn’t recall the two donations specifically but “guessed” that the $4 million came from Vince as payment for the WrestleMania match. The Trump Foundation has accepted payments for Trump appearances in the past, including from Comedy Central ($400,000 for their Roast of him) and NBCUniversal ($500,000 to cover the charitable donations for Celebrity Apprentice).
A WWE spokesman disagreed with Goldsmith’s guess, saying, “The donations to the Trump Foundation were personal donations made by the McMahons and not tied to appearance fees. Separate appearance fees were paid to Trump by WWE.”