Vince McMahon is reportedly planning a spending spree to get the XFL off the ground, leading to a new round of criticism about his spending on wrestlers in the WWE.
On Friday, a report from ESPN‘s Darren Rovell claimed that McMahon is planning a much larger-than-expected spending to get his revived football league off the ground. The report claimed that the WWE chairman is planning to sell $100 million of his WWE stock, telling investors that he will be spending close to $500 million for the first three seasons of the XFL, which launches in February, 2020.
The biggest expense in the XFL will be salaries for players and coaches, ESPN reported, with player salaries averaging $75,000. McMahon’s first attempt at launching the XFL in 2001 was seen as a spectacular failure, lasting just one season, and he now appears determined to make the second chance a success.
The report of Vince McMahon’s half-a-billion dollars in spending for the XFL has led to criticism of his corresponding spending on the WWE. He has come under fire for the relatively low salaries and often restrictive contracts for the company’s entertainers, especially amid growing concerns about the long-term health effects of wrestling.
A number of former wrestlers have spoken out about the disparities in salaries across the WWE. In 2014, wrestler Tyler Reks said that salaries have been steadily declining and that the company failed to compensate them for the high expenses of frequent travel.
“It [pay] was getting crappy when I left, and the guys I’ve talked to now say it’s beyond crappy,” he said, via Wrestling Inc. “People assume you once you’re on TV you make a load of money and drive Lamborghinis and stuff, and that’s just not the case. Here’s a perfect example: I hate to spill my salary on the internet, but when I left I got a bump to $100,000 a year. But a third of it goes to road expenses. The only thing they pay for is your flight. You pay for your own hotel, and car, and food. Could you imagine trying to eat out five times a day?”
The WWE faced a lawsuit from former wrestlers alleging that the company was negligent in failing to properly warn about the long-term effects of head injuries, though a federal judge ultimately cleared the WWE, Wrestling Inc. reported.
The XFL also faced criticism about a lack of player safety, as Vince McMahon sold the league as a rougher version of the NFL.