Linda McMahon is the Chief Executive Officer of the World Wrestling Federation. As the CEO, Linda has a good mind for business, and she knows what is good for business. While the other members of her family try to dictate what will happen, Linda spends her time making important behind-the scene-deals.
The former Linda Edwards of New Bern, N.C. was a high school honor student who never intended to run a wrestling empire. After marrying Vince, her childhood sweetheart, at 18, she got a degree in French at East Carolina University before working as a receptionist for a Washington law firm. She ended up with a job in probate, which is where she got a lot of her business training.
Vince worked a few sales jobs and got a degree in business administration, before joining the family business, Capitol Wrestling in 1972. "He always said he didn't want to go into the business, but he always talked about wrestling, " Linda recalls. Vince moved the family to Connecticut, where he sold Capitol's programming, station by station.
In 1979, Vince and Linda struck out on their own and formed Titan Sports. They soon bought an obscure coliseum in Cape Cod and started promoting events, the first an exhibition game of the Boston Bruins. To get the team, the McMahon's had to guarantee $50,000 in sales, so they created VIP tickets that came with little extras, like meatball sandwiches that Vince and Linda made at home and hauled to the coliseum. The event sold out.
The next year, the McMahon's went out on a limb to buy Capitol from Vince's father, Vince Sr., for $1 million. If they missed one of their quarterly payments, they lost the business and the money. Vince and Linda did everything the old man advised against: selling T-shirts, doing a mail-order business and expanding beyond the WWF's traditional borders and into syndication. It worked. Their Capitol gamble paid off.
"In our entire history in the business, we've only lost money two years," she says. Linda has worked behind the scenes at the WWF, turning her husband's creative ideas into businesses. Using the pseudonym Linda Kelly, she even wrote and produced the early WWF magazines and later negotiated the first licensing deal in the wrestling industry for the manufacture of WWF action figures.
"There's no question about who runs the business," says Tom Freston, the chairman and CEO of MTV Networks, who helped hammer out Viacom's deal with the WWF. "She was the primary negotiator and deal-maker. Kay Koplovitz, former president of USA Networks, now CEO of Working Woman Network observes that, where Vince shoots from the hip, Linda takes a thoughtful approach. "She's a more pragmatic negotiator."
Stephanie and Shane are being groomed for ascendancy. Their only requirement for joining the family business full-time was getting a degree, Linda says. Both children earned communications degrees from Boston University. On the day he graduated, Shane, skipped commencement, packed his car, locked up his apartment and returned home. He's now the president of new media for WWF.
Stephanie, who plays a smart-alecky, overly made-up vamp in the ring, is actually a polite and gracious young woman whose only request when she graduated was a family vacation to Ireland. They went for a week. It was the longest that Vince and Linda had ever left the business. Stephanie McMahon is now one of the lead writers.
No single incident has generated the feedback stirred up by a storyline written not by Stephanie, but for her and her mother. After the two exchange words in the ring, Stephanie slaps her mother, knocking her to the mat. In a later show, Linda returns the blow. "I found it very difficult conceptually," Linda says. "Stephanie refused to do it for the longest time. A lot of parents wrote to us. The reaction was across the board. We utilized that as an object lesson."
Would Linda do it again? "If it made sense, but not very often. We were making Stephanie into this shrew from this naive little girl. We knew the character change would come."
Even though the storyline is currently revolving around Vince and Linda's divorce, the McMahon's 34-year 'real life' marriage is as sound as ever. Their high jinks in the ring are just part of the ongoing soap opera that pulls in some 50 million people each week to televised and live events.
------------------------------------------------------------Real Name: Linda Edwards-McMahon
Alias: Linda McMahon
Previous Names: N/A
Birthplace: New Bern, North Carolina
Birthday: October 4, 1948
Hair Color: Blonde
Eye Color: Blue
Currently Managing: N/A
Current Status: CEO of the WWF
Trademark/Finishing Move(s): Bitch Slap, Grapefruit Crusher
Claim to Fame:
- CEO of the WWF
- Mother of Shane and Stephanie McMahon
- Married to Vincent K. McMahon (08/06/66)
Tidbit of Info: Linda McMahon started East Carolina University as Linda Edwards yet graduated as Linda McMahon. After marrying Vincent K. McMahon, Linda was hurled into the world of Pro-Wrestling. Now the CEO of the WWF, Linda has began taking part in WWF programming as well as handling projects and issues in the WWFE offices. On WWF TV, Linda has asked for a divorce, and with 51% ownership of the WWF, who knows where this powerful Diva is headed!!