WWE Hall of Famer Jesse Ventura claims Vince McMahon was dishonest with wrestlers over paying royalties.
Jesse Ventura had a successful career in wrestling before he left competition in the mid-eighties, and he soon transitioned into a role at the commentary booth working for WWE. However, the former Minnesota governor says that Vince McMahon was dishonest when it came to paying his talent the royalties they deserve.
Speaking on Talk is Jericho, Ventura detailed how he came to find out about royalty checks when he started a career in Hollywood.
“I did Predator, and I did Hunter and I did Hollywood. Well, all of a sudden, I’m getting royalty checks. When Hunter shows on TV, a check comes to me. When Predator shows the check comes to me. So I went into Vince and said, ‘Vince, how come everything I do in Hollywood, I get paid royalties, and you’re out selling videotapes all over the country of my broadcast, my matches, and everything about me, and I don’t get nothing? How come Hollywood pays me and you don’t?’”
“And Vince said, ‘well, I don’t pay royalties,’ which by law, he doesn’t have to. There’s no law that says he’s got to do it. Anyway, it stuck in my craw and every time I would negotiate with him, including when I stated the night I went into the Hall of Fame, the biggest thing I ever did in wrestling was that I made Vince McMahon – [I was] the first one to make him deal with an agent.”
However, when Jesse “The Body” Ventura took McMahon to court over royalty payments, it became clear that the WWE Chairman was lying as he’d paid royalties to top star Hulk Hogan as well as mainstream talent like Cyndi Lauper and Mr. T.
“Well, during discovery, we found out that Vince was lying when he said nobody gets paid for videotapes. Hogan was getting paid. Mr. T was getting paid. Cyndi Lauper was getting paid. All the people from the outside entertainment world were getting videotape royalties from the WWE. The only people not getting it were the wrestlers.”
“So we were successful because my attorney when he had me on the stand, said ‘Jesse Ventura if you knew Vince McMahon was paying video royalties to Hulk Hogan, Mr. T., Cyndi Lauper, and all these people were getting videotape royalties, would you have agreed to work without royalties?’”
“And I said, ‘Absolutely not. I would never have agreed to work had I known they were getting paid, and I wouldn’t.’ And that’s what won the case. The case was won on quantum meruit.”
“Vince lied when he said he didn’t pay royalties when the reality was certain people of the handpicked group were getting royalties, and if he paid me then guess what all the boys might jump on board. But it depends if all the boys had a legitimate negotiation with him. See, my agent came and testified. You know that yes, I brought this up to Vince McMahon. And yes, Vince McMahon told me, we don’t pay royalties. So I accepted that as WWE policy. Well, it wasn’t, it was a lie.”
Having once served as the governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura teased a 2024 run for President of the United States elsewhere in the interview.
If you use any quotes from this transcription, please credit Talk is Jericho and link back to this article with a h/t to Inside the Ropes.