A pro-Trump PAC run by McMahon pledged $18.5 million the same day Florida deemed WWE an ‘essential business’

The American First Action political action committee announced a total of $18.5 million in television advertisement spending.

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click to enlarge A pro-Trump PAC run by McMahon pledged $18.5 million the same day Florida deemed WWE an ‘essential business’
Photo via WWE

Earlier this week, it was discovered that the WWE was considered an “essential business” in Florida during the novel coronavirus pandemic, a label that allows the wrestling league to continue taping events at their Orlando studio.

The “essential” label didn’t make much sense to anyone, and Creative Loafing Tampa Bay actually speculated at the time that either a massive campaign donation was promised, or someone thought guys in spandex was church. 

Well, we weren’t that far off. 

On the same day that WWE was deemed an “essential business,” the American First Action political action committee, which is chaired by WWE owner Vince McMahon’s wife Linda, announced a total of $18.5 million in television advertisement spending in the Tampa ($7.1 million) and Orlando ($11.3 million) markets.

According to a press release from the super PAC, the money will be used for pro-Trump broadcast advertising from Labor Day through Election Day. 

Obviously, having major Trump ties obviously has its advantages. Under Florida’s original “stay-at-home order,” the wrestling entertainment company was not allowed to continue to operate. However, during a Monday press conference, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings stated the WWE was given the special status after “some conversation” with Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

“I think initially there was a review that was done and they were not initially deemed an essential business,” said Demings. “With some conversation with the governor’s office regarding the governor’s order, they were deemed an essential business. Therefore, they were allowed to remain open.”

What’s remarkable about this is that while every other professional sports league in existence has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic, the WWE is now allowed to continue operating, even after two of its employees from the Orlando studio literally tested positive for coronavirus

But the McMahon family has a long history with Donald Trump. Besides Trump being an actual WWE Hall of Famer, over the years the McMahon’s have been among the president’s largest campaign donorsAnd, just yesterday, Trump announced that he's putting together an advisory group to help reopen the country, and Vince McMahon (along with other sports leaders) is actually listed an advisor. 

Not to mention, last year Linda McMahon left her position as Chief of the Small Business Administration, to form the American First Action super PAC. 

From a financial point of view, WWE had to continue taping during the coronavirus pandemic. As Forbes pointed out, the WWE stood to lose millions if it couldn’t continue taping in Orlando. “WWE’s current contract with NBCUniversal and Fox reportedly stipulate the promotion run live in 49 out of 52 weeks,” reports the publication. “Failure to do so could result in a breach of contract or some sort of change in the deal. As a result, WWE would not receive all of its lofty, near-$400 million per-year revenue between the two networks.”

DeSantis, a governor who by all definition beat his GOP opponent in the last gubernatorial race because of Trump’s blessing, told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday that his decision to give the WWE special treatment was based on the fact that Florida residents are “starved” for new entertainment

“I think if NASCAR does a race and can televise it without having a large crowd, I think that’s a good thing,” said DeSantis. “People are chomping at the bit,” he added. 

Well, based on the fact that NASCAR's CEO is a major Trump supporter, there's a good chance we probably will see televised races pretty soon.

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About The Author

Colin Wolf

Colin Wolf has been working with weekly newspapers since 2007 and has been the Digital Editor for Creative Loafing Tampa since 2019. He is also the Director of Digital Content Strategy for CL's parent company, Euclid Media Group.
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