The Florida Governor's Office deemed professional sports "essential" on Thursday, officially allowing professional wrestling to continue amid the COVID-19 outbreak. There are certain guidelines that must be followed, such as closing the event to the general public, but the state officials deemed these sports to be essential services due to their impact on the economy. Now, however, users on social media are voicing their criticism for WWE and Vince McMahon's wife, Linda.
The former head of the small business administration, Linda stepped down in 2019 in order to join President Donald Trump's re-election campaign. The former wrestling executive that helped build WWE into a massive company had been a member of Trump's cabinet since 2017 but was going to help raise funds for campaign ads. However, there were several users on social media that felt there was a connection. They believed that McMahon's Super PAC's $18.5 million donation to the State of Florida played a role in wrestling becoming an "essential service."
Note: WWE owners, Vince and Linda McMahon, have close ties to Trump administration. pic.twitter.com/XmlfvlxzhI— Greg Angel (@NewsGuyGreg) April 14, 2020
"So let's see here... Linda McMahon (net worth: $1.5 Billion) makes her money from pro wrestling. WWE was about to default on its contract with Fox- which is worth $200M/year. Linda McMahon is the chair of Trump's SuperPAC. I'm sure it's all a big coincidence," one person wrote on Twitter. Others agreed with this idea and said that the Florida Governor's Office was trying to "curry favor" with McMahon and Trump.
According to Wrestling News, there is a clause in WWE's TV contracts that would allow for a limited number of events to be taped each year without breaking the deal and losing more than $200 million. However, there is a belief among users on social media that Linda brokered the $18.5 million donation in order to keep wrestling around and prevent a major loss of money. This quickly became a prominent discussion on Tuesday afternoon.
Questions surfaced about professional wrestling being postponed following a report that an on-air talent for WWE had tested positive for the coronavirus. According to Pro Wrestling Sheet, the individual was not identified, but WWE confirmed that the person had gone to dinner with two healthcare professionals following WrestleMania 36. The person immediately went into quarantine and has since recovered.
Fans have since called for WWE and Mcmahon to postpone further events. However, the longtime wrestling executive announced on April 10 that WWE would be returning to live events. A source confirmed to ESPN that WWE will run live shows without fans after several weeks of taped programming, starting with WWE: Raw.
"We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times," WWE said in a statement to CNN. "We are producing content on a closed set with only essential personnel in attendance following appropriate guidelines while taking additional precautions to ensure the health and wellness of our performers and staff. As a brand that has been woven into the fabric of society, WWE and its Superstars bring families together and deliver a sense of hope, determination and perseverance."