WWE just announced a dividend for investors that could have paid the salaries of all the people it released Wednesday for nearly eight months, an SEC filing from the company revealed Thursday. On Wednesday, we learned the names of thirty-eight wrestlers, producers, and other backstage talent released from the company as part of new cost-cutting measures during the coronavirus pandemic, despite WWE boasting of $500 million in reserves. Some workers were furloughed, but others, including most or all of the wrestlers, were released completely. Though more cuts from NXT are expected to come, Dave Meltzer said the total monthly cost WWE can expect to save from the cuts amounts to around $703,000.
WWE's stock dividend paid to all shareholders of both Class A and Class B stock is $.12 per share, according to the press release, which says the company's "Board of Directors today declared the Company's regular quarterly dividend of $0.12 per share for all Class A and B shares of common stock." The record date for the dividend will be June 15, 2020 and the payment date will be June 25, 2020. Class B WWE stock is a special version of the stock reserved for the McMahon family only which includes ten times the voting power as Class A stock. Class B stock is automatically converted to Class A stock when sold by a McMahon. The last WWE filing available on their website that lists the total number of shares was made in 2019, and listed 43,739,412 shares of Class A common stock and 34,303,438 shares of Class B common stock outstanding. Vince McMahon himself, after selling 3.2 million shares of Class B stock to fund the XFL in 2019, retained 28.7 million shares of Class B stock and 80 thousand shares of Class A stock.
So what does that mean? It means that WWE paid out 12 cents per share in dividend to the owners of roughly 78 million shares. That's a grand total of about $9.4 million paid out to shareholders. Vince McMahon himself would be entitled to roughly $3.5 million of that based on his last known share total. The $3.5 million paid to Vince McMahon alone could have funded the laid off staff at Meltzer's rate for over five months. The total dividend amount could have paid them until April of 2021.
WWE chose to pay its shareholders, including Vince McMahon himself, rather than pay the wrestlers and other workers who will now need to find another source of income. Are there logical business reasons WWE would want to pay stockholders a dividend? Of course. Could an exception have been made by the Board of Directors to instead use that money to keep its workers employed and financially secure in the middle of a global pandemic? Probably. Almost certainly Vince McMahon could have used his share to do that if he wanted to. But you don't have the resources to donate enough money to Donald Trump's presidential campaign to buy the political favor to get your business declared essential during a pandemic and get named to a presidential task force on economic recovery by giving your money away, do you?