June 21, 2024

Longtime WWE advertising partner Slim Jim has paused its sponsorship with the wrestling promotion following “disturbing allegations” unveiled in a lawsuit Thursday against WWE founder and board chair Vince McMahon. The announcement comes ahead of this Saturday’s Royal Rumble, one of WWE’s biggest events of the year.

“Slim Jim values integrity and respect in all of our partnerships. Given the recent disturbing allegations against Vince McMahon, at this time we’ve decided to pause our promotional activities with WWE,” the company said in a statement. “This decision reflects our commitment to our brand values and responsibility to our community.”

They added that they “will continue to monitor the situation and base our future engagements on our values and what’s best for our brand.”

The current Slim Jim sponsorship was touted by the companies as the “largest sponsorship deal in WWE history” last August, kicking off with sponsorship around the SummerSlam event. The companies had recently announced a sweepstakes to win a car, as well as a trip to WrestleMania 40.

Slim Jim and WWE have long been associated, dating back to their “snap into a Slim Jim” campaign with professional wrestlers in the 1990s, most famously Randy “Macho Man” Savage. The promotion was brought back recently with current WWE stars including L.A. Knight and Bianca Belair. At press time, Knight and Belair were currently still featured on the front page of Slim Jim’s website.

McMahon was sued Thursday for allegedly abusing, sexually assaulting and trafficking Janel Grant, a former WWE employee. She accused the company’s founder of sexually exploiting her, including in situations involving other WWE employees. The detailed lawsuit includes graphic descriptions of what McMahon and others allegedly did, including that McMahon and former executive John Laurinaitis sexually assaulted Grant inside WWE headquarters.

“Mr. McMahon does not control TKO nor does he oversee the day-to-day operations of WWE,” a spokesperson for WWE parent company TKO Group Holdings told TheWrap. “While this matter pre-dates our TKO executive team’s tenure at the company, we take Ms. Grant’s horrific allegations very seriously and are addressing this matter internally.”

TKO Group’s CEO is Ari Emanuel, the famed Hollywood agent who also serves as CEO of Endeavor. Emanuel cofounded TKO Group with McMahon, which controls both WWE and mixed-martial arts organization the UFC.

Earlier this week, WWE struck a $5 billion deal with Netflix for streaming rights to “Raw” and other programming domestically and internationally for the next 10 years, with options to extend it as long as the next 20 years.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson also joined the company’s board this week with a deal that includes $30 million in stock.

News of the advertising pause was first reported by WrestleVotes.

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