WWE faces boycott calls over “sexual slavery” accusations

As the wrestling world reels from the fallout of sexual abuse and trafficking allegations against Vince McMahon, former executive chairman of TKO, the parent company of WWE, a chorus of calls for a boycott against the wrestling behemoth has emerged on social media platforms like X, formerly Twitter.

The allegations against McMahon, detailed in a lawsuit filed last week by former WWE staffer Janel Grant that prompted his resignation, ignited a widespread call for accountability within WWE and its associated entities. With Grant’s accusations of sexual slavery and abuse gaining public attention, the WWE now faces scrutiny, extending to its recent high-profile deal with Netflix.

The lawsuit filed by Grant alleges multiple years of abuse and exploitation, and illustrates a disturbing corporate environment within the WWE. According to the legal document reviewed by Newsweek, Grant was subjected to repeated sexual assaults, including instances in which McMahon and John Laurinaitis, another WWE executive, allegedly coerced her into sexual acts under the guise of job security and advancement within the company.

Former WWE CEO Vince McMahon speaks at a news conference. WWE boycott calls are mounting after a former WWE staffer leveled allegations against McMahon involving sexual abuse and trafficking.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The details of the lawsuit are graphic, with Grant describing incidents of sexual assault, physical abuse and emotional trauma. She alleges that McMahon and Laurinaitis used their positions of power to manipulate and control her, leading to psychological and physical harm.

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Those details triggered an uproar among wrestling fans and the public, with many taking to social media to express their outrage and call for a boycott of WWE. Users have used the hashtag #BoycottWWE on X to condemn the alleged actions of McMahon and demanding a response from the company.

“It goes without saying but I support #boycottWWE. There is no ambiguity here. The ownership covered up crimes and misdemeanors that adversely affected employees,” one user said. “WWE is in serious trouble,” another user posted, “the whole company is rotten to the core. I hope Netflix [is] looking at cancelling their deal or else my subscription is getting cancelled.”

“We cannot continue to support a company with a rotten power structure that covers up sexual assault, rape, and sex trafficking,” user @JakeWrestle said on the platform, adding, “Netflix please reconsider your new deal with them, is this company the one you want to invest $5 Billion into? #boycottwwe.”

The Netflix Deal

Netflix last week entered into a decade-long agreement with the WWE that will see one of its flagship programs, WWE Raw, streamed on the service. Paying $5 billion for the rights to stream the live show, Netflix has the option to reassess the partnership after five years, according to an SEC filing, with the potential to extend it to 10 years, depending on the platform’s evaluation of the collaboration’s success.

The deal is set to take effect in January of next year, and will be streamed in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Latin America.

While Netflix hasn’t publicly mentioned anything about the state of the deal following the allegations leveled against McMahon, Slim Jim, a partner of the WWE, initially paused promotional activities with the brand but resumed its partnership following the confirmation of McMahon’s departure by WWE CEO Nick Khan.

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Newsweek has reached out to Netflix and WWE by email for comment.