The announcement of World Wrestling Entertainment’s new cable television contract was supposed to be cause for celebration. For months, WWE CEO and chairman Vince McMahon had been telling investors his company would triple its 2012 operating income of $60 million by 2015, in large part due to a fat new television contract in line with the big increases enjoyed by other sports leagues like Major League Soccer.
In August, McMahon was so confident that WWE would benefit from the trend that he told a financial analyst he could put him in a hammerlock if the company didn’t double the value of its domestic contracts for its two most popular shows, Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown.
Instead, the company announced Thursday that it had re-signed with NBCUniversal in a deal that would pay WWE about $150 million a year, a decent increase of 50% on the previous contract but nowhere near the 2x or 3x spike investors had been waiting for.
The stock took its biggest nose dive since its 1999 IPO the following day, and Forbes reported that McMahon lost nearly a third of his $1.1 billion fortune in the crash.