Few people have influenced the world of sports entertainment and professional wrestling more than Vince McMahon.
A third generation wrestling promoter, McMahon grew up in a trailer park in North Carolina. His father left when McMahon was still a baby; and they remained estranged until the son was 12. After graduating from East Carolina University in 1968, McMahon spent some time as a traveling salesman before making his first appearance as a World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) announcer in 1969. His interest in the profession soon led to him joining his father's small wrestling business. During the 1970s, the young man gained his industry chops by working in various roles, including commentary, ring announcing, and even as a referee. In 1982, McMahon purchased the wrestling company from his father and began transforming it from a regional operation into a global phenomenon.
Under McMahon's leadership, the company was rebranded World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE. As a business executive, he revolutionized the industry by introducing the concept of WrestleMania, an annual pay-per-view event that showcases the biggest stars in the business. Over the years, he created a unique blend of sports and entertainment. His new brand of wrestling incorporated rock music, celebrities, and outrageously scripted matches. McMahon is also credited with creating a number of memorable characters, including Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and The Rock. On top of that, McMahon introduced himself in the stories as an evil boss named Mr. McMahon, who became known for his brash personality and confrontational style. This new formula proved extremely successful. Not only did McMahon's company become a top merchandiser and pay-per-click viewer producer worldwide, it also went public in 1999. In 2022, the WWE earned $1.29 billion in revenues.
Today McMahon serves as the majority owner and executive chairman of WWE, the world's largest professional wrestling company, having previously served as its chairman and CEO for four decades. In addition to his work in professional wrestling, McMahon has also been involved in other ventures, including the short-lived XFL football league, professional bodybuilding, the clothing brand Tapout, and the launch of WWE Network, a streaming service that offers original programming and archival content.
During his lengthy career, McMahon has been honored with a number of awards. The Guinness World Records, for instance, named him the Oldest WWE Champion in 1999. In 2011, he was inducted in the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum.