Modern day WWE fans are no doubt extremely familiar with the biggest power couple in wrestling today, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. The two have been the onscreen Authority of World Wrestling Entertainment for the better part of the past three years. That said, their power couple doesn’t even compare to wrestling’s ultimate married moguls, Stephanie’s parents, Vince and Linda McMahon. The McMahon couple has dominated wrestling together for as long as most of their current employees have been alive, and they actually met each other decades before either of them even considered a career in the industry. That’s not to say the goal from the start was to build WWE as a family business, though, as the McMahon couple is one of the most storied and interesting in popular culture.
Vince and Linda married in August of 1966, two days after Vince’s 21st birthday. They had already known each other for a few years at that point, making their union one lasting over 50 years, which is admirable no matter how many insane trials and tribulations they’ve gone through. And indeed, they’ve gone through some pretty crazy relationship issues, befitting of the family behind a sports entertainment empire. Certain events in their lives made it seem like there was a chance they’d be together forever from the start, while others will make you shocked they lasted longer than a day. Keep reading if you want to discover 15 things you never knew about the two highest profile members of WWE, Vince and Linda McMahon.
15 They Met As Teenagers
Now that Vince McMahon is a septuagenarian, the fact he’s paired with females only a fraction of his age when he appears on television is as much out of necessity as it is out of his creepy desire to be with a younger woman. As it would turn out, though, Vince always liked them young, as he is three years older than his wife, Linda. This is hardly an issue now that they’re both technically senior citizens, but it was probably a little bit weird to the family of 13-year-old Linda Edwards when 16-year-old Vinny Lupton wouldn’t leave their daughter alone. Despite the age difference, it made sense. Their mothers were co-workers and friends, and thanks to years of abusive stepfathers, the young Vince was just happy to get out of the house and be with a friendly family.
The few years’ difference didn’t end up meaning that much, and the two immediately started dating throughout high school. Linda described herself as a high school jock at this time, playing baseball and basketball, while Vince was attending the Fishbourne Military School when not visiting his father in New York, slowly growing an interest in the family business. His interest in Linda must’ve been strong, though, because Vince didn't wait long before taking things to the next level.
14 They Got Married When Linda Was 17
50 years is an incredibly long time for a couple to be together, and that’s if they don’t have the same job. Most couples get to spend at least half of their days apart from one another, but if you work at the same place as your spouse, there’s no break whatsoever from constantly spending time together. This might be a strain on some couples, but Vince and Linda McMahon were already completely used to the idea of spending all their time together long before they became business partners as well as marital ones. Four years after meeting Linda, Vince proposed to her and they were married shortly thereafter.
Four years sounds like a reasonable amount of time to know someone before deciding to marry them, but it gets a whole lot less reasonable when the people in question are still teenagers. This didn’t stop Vince and Linda McMahon in the slightest, though, as Vince proposed in 1966 when Linda was 17, and she accepted despite her youth. Linda was always a good student and high school was significantly different in the 60s than it is today, so she at least had already graduated before they got married, and Vince himself was already in college when he popped the question. Prior to getting married, Linda was an honors student who aspired to become a pediatrician, but things obviously deviated far from her plans after Vinnie Mac got involved in her life.
13 They Went To The Same College
While there are plenty of couples who met each other in college and went on to get married, it’s a bit more rare for a couple to decide to go to the same college together. It definitely happens, but it gets even more rare when one of the people in the couple is significantly younger than the other. That still isn’t an impossible occurrence, but the two probably aren’t going to graduate together if that’s the case. Then again, most couples aren’t Vince and Linda McMahon.
Being three years older than Linda, Vince was already enrolled in East Carolina University when the two were married. In fact, he was already a student while still dating Linda when she was in high school. Vince wasn’t exactly a bad student, but his wife still clearly had better chops than he did, as she took this disparity as more of a challenge than anything else. Somehow, Linda McMahon finished her college education in only three years, gaining a Bachelor of Arts in French and becoming certified as a teacher. Vince graduated the same year she did with a degree in business. Vince’s degree makes sense, but Linda obviously veered pretty far away from both her aspirations as a pediatrician and whatever she was planning on doing with her French degree, deciding to follow Vince in his decision to join the family business.
12 They Were Struggling Financially When Shane Was Born
The McMahons are veritable billionaires today, with every member of the family having their own personal small fortune in addition to the massive family bank account. Most of the money belongs to Vince, but that money is legally shared with his wife Linda, especially considered the fact they were pretty much broke at various times in their relationship, and thus grew their wealth together. Although Vince’s father was a successful promoter and Linda’s parents weren’t exactly poor, the McMahons struggled financially for a few years after graduating college. Vince did his best as a travelling salesman, but money was always tight, and things only got worse when Shane was born in 1970.
While Vince was struggling as a salesman, Linda was putting her French degree to work by translating documents for a law firm. Through happenstance, it would be during this period of her life that she started learning about property rights that would later become key in her marketing and branding WWE. Of course, the stress of having a baby took her away from work for a little while and left the burden of making money on Vince, who wasn’t going to turn around his sales career through sheer force of will. It would take a while for the McMahons to dig themselves out of their financial hole, though, and it would get worse before it got better.
11 They Filed For Bankruptcy While Pregnant With Stephanie
People have criticized Stephanie McMahon for being a child of wealth who never really had to work for anything, and there’s no questioning the fact she has a particularly jaded perspective on the way the world works. However, it’s also fair to point out it’s not exactly fair to say her life was always perfect, as the reality is she just doesn’t remember the short period where there was a serious struggle. Vince started working for his father as an announcer in the early 70’s, but financially still had to support himself through odd jobs, and since Linda was busy raising Shane and had a second child on the way, their ability to pay the bills and buy food was at an all time low.
Linda looks back on the experience as being embarrassing, but admits that right before Stephanie was born, the family declared bankruptcy and needed to apply for food stamps. She claimed it only lasted two weeks and explained Vince worked himself up out of the family debt by working “90 hours a week” at a rock quarry, eventually saving up some money and increasing his role in his father’s company until they were able to buy it outright. It would be a little while before that happened, though, and there was a funny side note along the way that suddenly became very relevant.
10 Linda Had No Interest In Wrestling Prior To Meeting Vince
Vince McMahon is the figurehead of WWE and therefore the entire wrestling industry, and though his wife Linda has almost always been by his side as he earned that reputation, she’s barely even considered a member of WWE by some of the company’s biggest fans. The reason is mostly that Linda has kept herself off-screen while Vince made himself the star of the show for decades, but there’s more to it than simple character work. Vince McMahon wanted to be a wrestler from the day he met his father when he was 12 years old, and started to learn about the family empire. Vince idolized some of his father’s employees, including Jerry Graham, and even wanted to be a wrestler himself until his dad talked him out of it.
Linda McMahon, on the other hand, pretty much didn’t care about wrestling in the slightest. She was no doubt aware of the fact her boyfriend’s father was in charge of a small wrestling dynasty, but she definitely didn’t watch it herself, and to this day couldn’t name any childhood favorites of hers, because she didn’t have any. However, Linda does have a pretty great business sense, and knows how to adapt her life to fit in with that of the man they love, which is how she’s still an integral figure in the company today despite leaving her post as official CEO several years ago.
9 They Have Been Considered Equals Since WWE's Inception
The official story behind who exactly founded WWE depends on several factors and which person’s story you want to believe. The main factor is the egomania of Vince McMahon, which would imply that his father started the company in one sense, but that he personally did so much to change it that it was basically his own creation. A more accurate view of history would show that Vince’s grandfather, Jess McMahon, actually co-founded a predecessor company called the Capitol Wrestling Corporation with Toots Mondt. Mondt helped McMahon, Sr. adapt this company into WWE, and most likely due to the fear it would prove the McMahon’s didn’t do it all by themselves, this part of history has mostly been erased.
Curiously, the fact Linda has always been co-leader of the company with Vince also seems to be ignored by the mainstream media. It’s true Linda’s role has diminished over the years, but for decades she had just as much power as Vince, and in fact her executive titles would imply she had even more than her husband. Jack Tunney might have held the position on television, but Linda was the actual President of WWE starting in 1993, and later changed titles to the CEO, a position she held until 2009. Most company employees referred to her as the “co-chief executive” with Vince when she was there, but fans still treat it like she was merely part of the scenery.
8 Linda Handled The Business While Vince Handled The Wrestling
Especially considering Linda didn’t care too much about wrestling before meeting Vince, her rise from a promising education student with a degree in French to the CEO of a billion dollar sports entertainment company has got to be one of the least likely rises in business history. Vince wasn’t exactly an expected success story, either, but at least he had the family name and aspiration to drive him towards what we now know was destined to happen; Linda becoming a wrestling mogul seems completely out of left-field even in retrospect.
It makes more sense when you look at the specifics, which are that Vince handled most of the wrestling stuff, while Linda took care of the business side of things. She didn’t have any real training in law, but by translating documents for a law firm, she had enough first hand experience that she developed a pretty firm understanding of trademark law. Part of WWE’s success was branding and marketing, selling toys, t-shirts, and videos on a level no other wrestling company ever had. That was all Linda, and she has also been responsible for plenty of the contracts with TV networks that keep WWE relevant and on the air each and every week.
7 Linda's Business Practices Are Just As Shady As Vince's
We’ve covered before just how shady and ruthless Vince McMahon can be when it comes to his most devious business tactics, but somehow Linda got left out of the equation yet again. It’s true Vince is running the wrestling portion of the show, and therefore he deserves the brunt of the blame for things like the steroid trials, the sexual harassment controversies, and obviously his own personal indictment by the IRS. But it’s also true that Linda wasn’t an entirely innocent party in any of these instances, and in fact she was accused of some of the shadiest business dealings of all during one of the company’s darkest hours.
The steroid trials of the early 1990s nearly sent Vince McMahon to prison, and entirely revolved around a doctor named George Zahorian who had worked for WWE on a part-time basis throughout the 1980s. When the McMahons were under investigation, Linda sent a letter to WWE Vice President Pat Patterson telling him to inform Zahorian that he was probably going to get raided next. Zahorian was eventually convicted and served three years for steroid distribution, but the McMahons were able to get off scot-free despite their obvious connection. This incident would later get regularly referred to during Linda’s political career, and more on that later.
6 Linda Didn't Join Vince On TV Until 1999
While Vince McMahon wanted to be a wrestler from the day he was introduced to this sport, his father strictly forbade it, on the old school mentality that promoters and wrestlers shouldn’t mix. The two McMahons eventually compromised, and Vince, Sr. let his son start appearing as a commentator in 1971. Vince, Jr. was still busy with plenty of outside ventures as we just covered, but as he and his wife gradually took over WWE from his father, Vince’s role evolved from a commentator to the host of nearly every WWE program all the way to the admitted owner of the company. Linda, on the other hand, was never even mentioned in so much as a single press release, until she suddenly appeared on camera in 1999.
Linda debuted on WWE television at 50, therefore becoming one of the oldest superstars to get their start in the industry. Linda rarely was involved on screen unless her other family members were nearby, although she did once famously receive a Tombstone Piledriver at the hands of Kane, and like every McMahon, she’s eaten a Stone Cold Stunner or two throughout her career. Linda may not have been blessed with the charisma of her husband, but even she was able to have at least one winning storyline, when she got to sit catatonically and watch Vince make out with Trish Stratus for several months before enacting her epic revenge at WrestleMania X7.
5 Linda Is Responsible For Most WWE Charity Efforts
One of Linda’s earliest contributions to WWE was the creation of the company’s first action figures, which were part of a wide-scale marketing campaign in the early 80s. Another element of this creation, however, was branching out towards children, which was something Linda always felt was integral to the success of the family business. Inspired by Linda’s child-focused mentality, the McMahons have donated millions of dollars to their alma maters and various other educational institutions, focusing on children’s education and educational empowerment in general. Linda also spearheaded the Get R.E.A.L program inspiring young adults to read, and the Smack Down Your Vote! voter registration.
The McMahons have also been financial supporters of the Special Olympics for over three decades, and have made countless contributions to the USO, Make-A-Wish Foundation, The Starlight Children’s Foundation, and plenty of other charitable causes. Although the McMahons haven’t created their own charities like their daughter and her husband Triple H eventually would, it’s clear they give back far more than they get credit for, too. Of course, Linda would like to be able to give back in a far more significant way, but there’s some question as to whether or not anybody actually wants what she has to offer on that front. Since we’re finally on the subject…
4 Linda Left WWE To Run For Congress
Linda McMahon officially left her position as CEO of WWE in 2009. She held that particular title for the previous 22 years, and obviously played a pretty huge role in the company before then, as we just spent our list explaining. Linda’s decision to leave WWE wasn’t one that came without a small amount of controversy, as many people wondered whether or not she was making the right decision. WWE has managed to continue business more or less as usual since her departure, so it wasn’t the company that anybody was worried about. People were more concerned with the realism of Linda’s new business goal.
Linda McMahon ran for the United States Senate in 2010 and again in 2012. Hoping to score a Congressional seat in her long time home state of Connecticut, Linda ran as the candidate for the Republican Party. Although she scored her party's nomination in both races, she summarily lost to the Democratic opposition both years. Linda has spent the last four years away from politics, but the fact she never officially returned to WWE and continues making political appearances to this day has many assuming she may again run when another Congressional seat opens up for her state.
3 Linda's Congressional Aspirations Directly Affect WWE
Old school wrestling fans have plenty of things to complain about with modern WWE, but some of the changes are clearly for the wrestlers’ safety. People might be upset that there’s no more chair shots to the head or high-impact hardcore matches in general, but there’s definitely a logic behind that most fans can understand when it’s explained to them. People are less cool with the lack of casual swearing and sexual themes that they became accustomed to during the late 90s, and although these things aren’t for every audience, there’s not exactly any risk to the health of the performers to justify why these things would go away.
The explanation, then, is the fact Linda McMahon feels WWE should be presented primarily for the entertainment of children. There’s nothing wrong with this decision, and it directly ties into her Congressional hope, but fans still like to complain about it every time a match is stopped for a wrestler to clean up a bad cut. WWE switched from an adult-oriented project to completely PG in 2008, which was one year before Linda decided to step into the political arena. Plenty of children actually did start watching the show since then, meaning it won’t be possible for them to switch back any time soon.
2 They Love Donald Trump
WWE fans mostly just look the other way with Linda McMahon’s political career. It’s not that she’d be a particularly atrocious politician and all fans would hate her if they looked into it, but most wrestling fans, especially those living outside of Connecticut, don’t care that much about the inner workings of regional Connecticut politics. If the loud USA chants whenever a wrestler from any land even vaguely identifiable as foreign steps into the ring are any indication, though, most wrestling fans do have a whole lot of interest in the United States of America, and you’d hope that at least a little bit extends to the nation’s President. Therefore it might be interesting to some people to know that the McMahon’s strongly support Donald Trump, both in his Presidential campaign and personal life.
The McMahons first met Trump in the late 80s, when he served as the unofficial host of WrestleMania IV and V. WWE and mainstream media primarily focused on the friendship between The Donald and Vince, since they were the ones who would eventually interact on television for a number of storylines, but clearly Linda was a huge fan of Trump and his politics, as well. The McMahon family has donated at least $5 million to The Trump Foundation, and even though Linda acknowledges Trump has said some pretty bad things about women, they still support him in his race to become President.
1 Linda Accepts The Fact Vince Cheated On Her
The fact Vince and Linda McMahon have been married over 50 years at first seems like some kind of incredible, impossible romance. Every relationship that lasts even 5 years is bound to experience some level of blood, sweat, and tears, and in the intense world of sports entertainment, that sort of mayhem is business as usual, thereby meaning the McMahon family had no escape from the madness of the lives. Unless, of course, one of them cheated on the other one. Which Vince did. A lot.
It would be impossible to make a list of all the times Vince McMahon cheated on his wife, so here’s just a brief sampling of the women he’s made out with and/or been implied to have sex with on television: Trish Stratus, Torrie Wilson, Dawn Marie, Candice Michelle, The Fabulous Moolah, Mae Young, Stacy Keibler and Sable, and that’s just when the cameras were rolling. Those dalliances were scripted and with Linda’s approval, but Vince also cheated on her in the more traditional sense plenty of times throughout their marriage, too, and according to an infamous interview with Playboy magazine, Vince was always open with Linda about his indiscretions.
The way the couple talk about it, Vince’s infidelity is behind him. Well, aside from every time he scripts himself into cheating again on Raw, but that must be a different story. Somehow, Linda was always able to forgive Vince anyway, and the two continued their role as the ultimate power couple in one of the industries where power really means everything.
Sources: New York Times