Vince McMahon was born August 24, 1945 and is currently the owner of WWE. The official story of the company is that McMahon’s father Vincent, Sr. founded the World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1963, and Vince, Jr. purchased it away in 1984, first renaming it the World Wrestling Federation and then changing the name again to WWE in 2002. Since joining his father’s business, much of Vince, Jr.’s life has been lived on screen, especially since the late 1990’s when Mr. McMahon became the most important on screen character in WWE television. It wasn’t always like that, however, as Vince actually started at the bottom and worked his way to the top, both in the wrestling business and financially.
While most WWE fans are probably pretty familiar with the CEO and chairman of the company, there are still huge portions of his life that are a public mystery. Areas of McMahon’s life have been mentioned on camera once or twice, only to quickly be forgotten about or ignored. In some cases, the McMahon family has even gone to considerable lengths to downplay elements of McMahon’s personal and business history, while in other cases they made huge deals out of actually minor situations. All in all, there is much to learn about Vincent Kennedy McMahon.
15. He Grew Up In A Trailer Park
Vince McMahon as he is known today possesses such an air of successful authority that when talking about hating “The Man,” they may as well be referring to an actual image of The McMahon. Dig a little deeper, though, and they’ll find out it didn’t start that way. Vince was born in Pinehurst, North Carolina, and spent the first several years of his life living in a trailer park. McMahon of course grew up to be extremely successful, and is oftentimes seemingly resentful of his origins, mocking low-class and “redneck” characters on WWE television, while presenting himself as sophisticated and high class.
14. He Was Raised By A Single Mother
Vince McMahon, Sr. left Victoria Askew for Juanita Johnson when Vince, Jr. was still a baby, leaving Askew a single parent to the boy she would call Vinnie Lupton, last name taken from one of Vince’s many short-term stepfathers. Many of Askew’s romantic partners were abusive to both her and the pre-adolescent Vince, perhaps influencing McMahon’s later interests in both violence and physical strength. McMahon has never gone into great detail on the subject, but in interviews with both Howard Stern and Playboy magazine, he hinted that his mother was also sexually abusive to him as a child, leading to decades of estrangement between them. Surprisingly, the two seem to have mended ways, with McMahon tweeting a message to her on Mother’s Day 2015, and the Vince & Linda McMahon Family Foundation donating a huge sum to Askew’s favorite tennis club the year prior.
13. He Met Vince, Sr. When He Was 12
Given his troubled relationship with his mother and stepfathers, Vince sought out and discovered his real father, Vince, Sr., when he was 12. At that point in time, Vince, Sr. was the promoter of the World Wide Wrestling Federation. Considering his early years, it might not be surprising that Vince and his father chose to instantly forgive and forget the childhood abandonment as soon as Vince, Sr. welcomed his son into his home with open arms. As soon as Vince, Sr. brought the young Vince, Jr. to Madison Square Garden, he became enthralled with the idea of joining the family business.
12. He Wanted To Be A Wrestler
As soon as Vince met his father, he wanted to be a wrestler. Idolizing Dr. Jerry Graham, Vince, Jr. wanted to be just like his father and his friends, but was warned to first get a solid education. Vince enrolled at the East Carolina University, where he met his wife, Linda, and they both graduated with degrees in business administration. Post graduation, his father finally gave him a shot at promoting a small territory in Bangor, Maine, which became successful, and lead to Vince, Sr. hiring his son to gradually control more and more of the company until he finally purchased it from him in 1984. Regardless of his taking control, Vince, Jr. always remembered the words of his father, who taught him promoters shouldn’t become wrestlers…at least not full-time.
11. His Father Wouldn’t Like Modern WWE
When Vince, Jr. bought the company from his father, he immediately set out on making it the biggest professional wrestling company the world has ever seen. This was at a time when there wasn’t one major wrestling promotion in the United States, but rather dozens if not hundreds of small territories, of which the McMahon family controlled the Northeast. Promoters weren’t always the best of friends, but there were unspoken business rules in practice, and Vince, Jr.’s efforts towards expansion broke every one of those unspoken rules. Speaking with Sports Illustrated in 1991, Vince, Jr. admitted, “had my father known what I was going to do, he never would have sold his stock to me.” McMahon has never denied his vision has far surpassed his father’s, but he often overlooks the fact his father probably didn’t approve of that vision in the slightest.
10. He’s “The Million Dollar Man”
As the owner of WWE, Vince McMahon has probably devised more wrestling gimmicks than almost any other individual on the planet. It’s only natural then, that considering he wanted to be a wrestler, one of those ideas was actually for himself. According to Ted DiBiase, after Vince presented him with the idea for “The Million Dollar Man,” Pat Patterson took Ted aside and explained to him if Vince were a wrestler, this would be the gimmick he’d use. Patterson also said the gimmick was essentially McMahon’s alter-ego, and wrestlers, like many performers, are best when playing exaggerated versions of themselves, so Vince probably would’ve knocked it out of the park. We still wouldn’t trade it for the reality, though, because we don’t want to lose Ted’s laugh.
9. But Actually, He’s The Billion Dollar Man
Throughout the late 1990’s, McMahon regularly boasted on television that he was a “certified billionaire”—and although it wasn’t true yet, he was well on his way. It’s tough to figure out the exact finances of any citizen, but Forbes has reported Vince reached billionaire status at least twice. McMahon’s bank account reached 10-digits for the first time in 2000, only to drop back below the billionaire line a year later, in part due to purchasing WCW and the failure of the Invasion storyline. He inched his way back up into billionaire status over the next 13 years only to lose it again in 2014 after market investors shattered WWE stock. McMahon’s personal wealth has meandered over the past few years, and Forbes currently does not list him as a billionaire.
8. He’s Lost Millions, Too
In the mid 1970s, before any of the successes, Vince McMahon, Jr. declared bankruptcy. He blames his first financial failure on a combination of bad advice and bad investments, and gradually regained his wealth through the wrestling business. Unfortunately for the McMahons, it hasn’t been completely smooth sailing since then either. Near the end of 1997, WWE was taking a severe beating from WCW, and there was genuine talk of the company going out of business because they were unable to compete. Although that quickly turned around, the story went quite differently when McMahon tried to compete with the NFL, and lost millions on his own XFL. The market investors we mentioned earlier really did a number on McMahon, too, causing him to lose $350 million in a single day in May of 2014.
7. He Started As A Commentator
This isn’t new to any fan over 20 years old, but younger fans might be surprised to learn Vince started in WWE as a commentator. Throughout the 1990s, he announced the majority of WWE’s In Your House Pay-Per-Views, as well as being the lead play-by-play announcer on Monday Night Raw. He hosted Tuesday Night Titans in the 1980s, and voiced other WWE programming including Superstars and Prime Time Wrestling, starting with the company by hosting All-Star Wrestling and Championship Wrestling as early as the 1970s. It makes sense his dad would send his son out to call the action, knowing he could trust him to tell the story the promoter had in mind, but clearly Vince, Jr. enjoyed the gig, considering he continued doing it for years, calling play-by-play for a match on Raw as recently as 2009. Whatamaneuver!
6. He’s The Oldest WWE World Champion Ever
On the September 16, 1999 episode of SmackDown, Stone Cold Steve Austin stunned Triple H, allowing Vince McMahon to cover him, and Shane McMahon to count the pinfall, giving Vince the WWE World Championship shortly after his 54th birthday. McMahon never defended the title, instead vacating it the very next week on Raw, but he still remains in the history books as the oldest wrestler ever to win the title. The second oldest wrestler to win the title was Hulk Hogan in 2002 at 48, and the oldest wrestler to compete for the title was Jerry Lawler in 2011, aged 61.
5. He’s The Oldest Ever ECW World Champion
Although Vince never really wrestled in ECW, when WWE revived the brand in 2006, Mr. McMahon decided to put himself in the center of ECW storylines. With the assistance of Umaga and his son Shane-O-Mac, Vince won the ECW World Heavyweight title from Bobby Lashley at Backlash 2007, aged 61. McMahon would lose the title back to Lashley shortly thereafter, but the move was enough to upset many diehard ECW fans who already felt WWE’s revival wasn’t anywhere near up to par with the original. Of course, upsetting the crowd was exactly Vince’s plan, and it remains one of his more inspired moves as a heel. Vince’s reign as ECW World Champion also makes him the oldest ever World Champion of any well-known wrestling promotion.
4. He Almost Went To Prison
While Vinnie Mac has been arrested countless times on WWE television, he’s also spent his fair share of time in handcuffs in the real world. In addition to having run into some trouble with the IRS on more than one occasion, in 1993, Vince was charged with conspiracy to distribute steroids by the United States Government. Although McMahon could have faced upwards of 8 years in prison, he was eventually acquitted on all charges. The case revolved around Dr. George Zahorian, who worked for WWE in the 1980s, and was convicted of trafficking drugs. Although Zahorian attempted to implicate McMahon, courts found the WWE itself was guilty of no actual wrongdoing. Despite McMahon’s lack of involvement, it is clear Zahorian dealt steroids to some of their employees.
3. He Has A Brother
Everyone knows about the McMahon Family—Vince, his wife Linda, and their children Shane and Stephanie. Most people probably know about Stephanie’s husband, Triple H, and some might know Shane’s wife, former WWE announcer Marissa Mazzola, and the fact there are McMahon grandchildren out there. Less well known is the fact Vince has a brother, Rod McMahon. Rod has never appeared on WWE television, and has only been mentioned twice in passing by Michael Cole and Jonathan Coachman. According to Figure Four Weekly, Rod McMahon was going to appear as part of Vince McMahon’s fake televised funeral, but his appearance was canceled along with the storyline. According to Vince, Rod works in the steel industry, and the brothers get along, despite Rod having little interest in wrestling.
2. His Grandfather Started The Family Business
It’s fairly well known in WWE history that Vince McMahon bought the company from his father in the mid 1980’s and took it from a regional promotion into the biggest wrestling company in America, but that isn’t anywhere near where the McMahon story begins. Jess McMahon, Vince, Jr.’s grandfather, started the Capitol Wrestling Corporation in 1952. Jess had been a successful boxing promoter working primarily out of Madison Square Garden since the 1920’s. He promoted alongside his brother, Edward McMahon. Somewhere along the way, he became interested in promoting wrestling, and formed the CWC, which became a member of the National Wrestling Alliance. Jess died in 1954 leaving his controlling interesting in the company to Vince, Sr., years before Vince, Jr. ever had a chance to meet him.
1. The McMahons Didn’t Do It Alone
Although the McMahon family really has been involved in the wrestling business for generations, they didn’t create the WWE Empire entirely by themselves, regardless of what they might say. The non-McMahon most integral in the creation of WWE is Toots Mondt, a former wrestler and Jess McMahon’s partner in the Capitol Wrestling Corporation. Mondt had earlier been a member of the Gold Dust Trio, who essentially invented professional wrestling as it’s known today in the 1920’s, and has been credited as the man who first realized Bruno Sammartino would be a star. There are also men such as Pat Patterson and Vince Russo, who have had considerable creative influence in booking WWE television throughout the years, at times rivaling the control of any McMahon.
On top of that, throughout the 1980s and 1990s respectively, Jim Crockett, Dusty Rhodes, Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman had comparable influence on the wrestling landscape, and are all extremely important in the development of WWE history through that influence. While no one would deny that Vince McMahon and the McMahon family in general are the most important people in WWE history, they didn’t create professional wrestling alone, and tend to ignore the people who helped them.