Vince McMahon started out in poverty and rose to become a billionaire.
Vince McMahon was born in Pinehurst, North Carolina in 1945. As a young child Vince didn't know his father and lived in a trailer with his mother. He says he was beaten and sexually abused by one of his five stepfathers. When he was 12 years old he finally met his real father and they had an instant bond.
Vince's father, Vincent James McMahon was a wrestling promoter who ran the Capitol Wrestling Federation. He was a moderately successful man who loved the wrestling business. Vince had wanted to go into the sport in some way, but his father wanted him to become a lawyer or accountant and live better than he did. So Vince was sent to military school. Even then he was against authority, as he was the first cadet in the history of the school to be court marshaled.
When he left school he fell in love with Linda Edwards. They soon married while Vince was unemployed. Vince was ready for his first shot in the wrestling business. After firing an announcer before a show, Vince Sr. needed a replacement. Vince Jr. stepped in and had his first job as an announcer. He knew from that point on that wrestling was what he wanted to do.
Picking up tips from his father as he went along, Vince quickly learned what it took to be successful as a wrestling promoter. He and his father created the WWWF (World Wide Wrestling Federation) and became one of the top organizations in the US. In 1982, Vince Sr. decided to retire and sold the business to his son. Changing the name to the WWF, Vince started an empire. He created stars such as Hulk Hogan and Randy "Macho Man" Savage.
Vince made up his mind to do something that nobody else had done. He risked the entire company with wrestling's biggest event ever, Wrestlemania. Since Pay-Per-View wasn't around in 1985 so this super event was shown on closed circuit television. Vince had spent his entire fortune renting out over 100 arenas. The idea was crazy, to have people pay to enter an arena and watch wrestling on a giant screen. But it worked and Wrestlemania made Vince McMahon a millionaire.
Wrestling gained popularity throughout the 80's. Wrestlemainia became an annual event and at Wrestlemania III, having over 93,000 people jam the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan set a new indoor attendance record. Vince formed Titan Sports, the new parent company of the WWF. He also celebrated the birth of 3 healthy children. Everything was going great for Vince and the World Wrestling Federation, until 1992.
A doctor had admitted to a federal jury that he had supplied wrestlers with steroids. Vince was brought to trial and testifies that he had used steroids when they were legal and had never distributed or promoted the use of steroids to his wrestlers. With the support of several wrestlers, Vince was cleared of all charges. The trial was over, but it took Vince away from wrestling for two years. When he returned, he found his company in financial trouble and a new monster organization was dominating, WCW.
The Ted Turner owned WCW had quickly gained the top talent by spending insane prices to acquire them. It had worked though, and WCW had become the leading wrestling organization by the mid-90's. This period is sometimes referred to as the dark ages for the WWF. The matches and storylines were getting stale and every huge new star WWF got, WCW convinced them to jump ship. There was only one way to get out of this slump, and that was to change the rules.
How could Vince change the rules of wrestling? I don't mean the rules of matches; I mean the rules of the business. Well he let wrestlers do more than they ever could before. During the 80's, wrestling was geared toward children and family. That meant no cussing and no sex appeal. Well Vince started to use cuss words, sex appeal, and anything else he could come up with to bring the WWF on top. While they lost a lot of their fanbase, they found a whole new market. Instead of kids watching the shows, the WWF's viewers changed into males between the age of 13-25. This was a much larger market, and the new WWF fit their tastes perfectly.
With starts such as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Triple H, and The Rock, Vince brought the WWF back to the top, and better than ever. One reason may be that Vince put himself in the ring. For years we had known Vince as just an announcer, but it was told that he was the owner of the WWF. He started an angle with Steve Austin where the no-nonsense toughguy fought the rich boss; This turned out to be one of the most profitable feuds in wrestling history.
Today Titan sports sells more merchandise than anyone else in North America and is the top Pay-Per-View producer in the world with over 70% of the PPV market in the US. The WWF went public in 1999, selling shares of the company to stock investors. Being a billionaire hasn't changed Vince much. He still works with the creative team for every TV show and even wrestles on occasion. And with his children, Shane and Stephanie, being in the top storylines and working behind the scenes, it looks like wrestling will be dominated by a McMahon for a long time.