Skip to navigationSkip to content

Trump just lost another cabinet member—but won a champion fundraiser

Linda McMahon leaving SBA one week before WrestleMania 35.
REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
From WWE to SBA to DJT PAC.
By Justin Rohrlich
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Donald Trump has praised Linda McMahon, the head of the US Small Business Administration (SBA), as “one of the country’s top female executives”, and reportedly considered her for the top job at the Commerce Department.

But ahead of the 2020 election, the former pro wrestling executive might be of more help to the president by raising money. On Friday (Mar. 29), McMahon said she will step down from her post to chair America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC.

“Linda McMahon has done an incredible job,” president Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. “She has been a superstar.”

The 70-year-old McMahon gave $7 million to pro-Trump super PACs to help elect him in 2016. According to Federal Election Commission filings, McMahon has also donated substantial sums to Republican candidates including Florida senator Marco Rubio, late Arizona senator John McCain, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, and one-time presidential contender Jeb Bush.

Since 2017, when McMahon was confirmed as the SBA administrator, she’s been a quiet, yet stalwart, Trump supporter. Unlike other cabinet members, she’s kept a low profile and remained scandal-free. McMahon has some experience with political campaigns, having run for a US Senate seat in her home state of Connecticut in 2012 and 2016.  She lost both times.

McMahon and her husband Vince, founders of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), have known Trump since 1988, when his Atlantic City casino-hotel, the Trump Plaza, hosted WrestleMania IV. (The event was headlined by Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Ted DiBiase, now an ordained minister in Mississippi.) WrestleMania V was also held at Trump Plaza, the only venue in the world ever to host back-to-back WrestleMania events.

“I just wanted a piece of it,” Trump said in 2011’s The True Story of WrestleMania. “Everybody in the country wanted this event, and we were able to get it.”

McMahon has been seen in the ring multiple times over the years:

Trump praised her business acumen in late 2016 by pointing out that she helped grow WWE “from a modest 13-person operation to a publicly traded global enterprise with more than 800 employees in offices worldwide.”

Trump has made numerous appearances at WWE events—including in 2004, when former Minnesota governor and pro wrestler Jesse “The Body” Ventura interviewed him during WrestleMania XX. He is the first known US president ever to have been inducted into the pro wrestling hall of fame, an honor bestowed upon him in 2013.

McMahon’s longstanding relationship with Trump will likely resonate with donors. What other fundraiser can say the current occupant of the Oval Office once shaved their spouse’s head on pay-per-view TV?

It is not yet known who will replace McMahon at the SBA.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.