Dwayne Johnson, aged 51 and an eight-time world heavyweight champion with Vince McMahon’s WWF (now WWE), has officially joined the board of directors at TKO Group Holdings, Inc. This significant move comes as TKO Group Holdings, Inc. is the result of the merger between WWE and the UFC orchestrated by Endeavor. The renowned actor and media figure, celebrated for his success in the 1990s and early 2000s as a WWE (formerly WWF) star, brings his wealth of experience to the board. With numerous world championships to his name, Johnson is poised to play a pivotal role in steering the company to new heights under the umbrella of Endeavor’s strategic vision.
Ariel Emanuel, TKO’s CEO, expressed excitement about teaming up with Dwayne, praising his exceptional talent as he joins TKO’s Board. Dwayne’s proven track record in content creation and building globally recognized consumer brands is expected to be instrumental in achieving TKO’s ambitious goals.
WWE disclosed a services and merchandising collaboration with Johnson. This partnership involves Johnson offering promotional, licensing, and various services to the company. Furthermore, as part of an intellectual assignment agreement, Johnson gains ownership of the trademarked name “The Rock.”
As outlined in the SEC filing accompanying the announcement, Dwayne Johnson is set to receive a little over $30 million in TKO stock. The filing also discloses that in 2023, Johnson received $491,000 in royalty payments from WWE. Post the Effective Date, he will continue to receive annual royalties from WWE and will also be eligible for royalties tied to the sale of licensed products utilizing the Assigned IP and his name, likeness, and other intellectual property rights as outlined in the Services Agreement.
Amid widespread speculation about Johnson’s potential return to WWE, where he might face his cousin and the current WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns, this news of board appointment and agreements surfaces. If the match materializes, it would mark Johnson’s first WWE bout since 2016.
Expressing gratitude in a statement, Dwayne Johnson reflected on how his grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia, and his father, Rocky ‘Soulman’ Johnson, could never have envisioned this moment. Humbled by the opportunity to sit at a table steeped in decades of family history and legacy, one his family played a part in building, Johnson finds inspiration in being on the TKO Board of Directors and securing full ownership of his name, ‘The Rock’. This unique journey, marking a full circle in his dynamic life, is unprecedented and deeply motivating for the builder at his core.
Johnson’s commitment extends beyond personal milestones; he sees this as a chance to contribute to Ari’s game-changing vision. Eager to play a role in the global expansion of TKO, WWE, and UFC businesses, he envisions these entities as worldwide leaders in sports and entertainment. With pride, Johnson looks forward to representing the dedicated athletes and performers who, like him, relentlessly pursue their dreams with hard work, delivering unforgettable moments for audiences worldwide.
Renowned for his roles in major blockbusters such as “San Andreas,” both “Jumanji” films, various installments in the “Fast & Furious” series, including the spinoff “Hobbs & Shaw,” and the Disney animated feature “Moana,” Dwayne Johnson is a familiar face on the big screen. Beyond acting, his diverse business portfolio encompasses the United Football League, a result of merging Vince McMahon’s XFL and the USFL, as well as ventures like Teremana Tequila, Project Rock, Zoa Energy, and Seven Bucks Productions.
Vince McMahon, serving as the executive chairman of the TKO board, acknowledges Johnson’s unparalleled grasp of the intersection between sports, entertainment, media, and business. McMahon expresses pride in having Johnson on the TKO board, foreseeing his valuable contribution in steering the company to unprecedented heights.
Dwayne Johnson has deep connections within the TKO organization, extending beyond his longstanding association with Vince McMahon and WWE. His ties include a childhood friendship with current WWE president Nick Khan and Khan’s sister, Nahnatchka Khan, a TV writer and producer involved in co-developing Johnson’s NBC series “Young Rock.” Adding to this network, Ariel Emanuel, leading Johnson’s team at WME for the past 13 years, further solidifies his presence within TKO.
While Johnson’s appointment is notable, he’s not the sole new addition to the TKO board. Another notable member is Brad Keywell, stepping in as the 13th board member. Keywell, the founder and executive chairman of Uptake Technologies, brings a wealth of experience having co-founded and led companies like Groupon, Echo Global Logistics, and MediaOcean. Recognized with the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2019, Keywell also shares his expertise as an adjunct professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.