Stephanie McMahon's Tragic True Life Story

Stephanie McMahon Levesque was known for years on WWE TV as "The Billion Dollar Princess." And while that moniker pertained to her on-screen character, in real life, as the daughter of Vince McMahon, surely, financial woes were rarely, if ever, a major concern for Stephanie either. Still, as the saying goes, money isn't everything and life has a way of reminding us that nobody is excused from hard times, family issues, controversies, business disagreements, or even the loss of loved ones. Suffice it to say, it couldn't have been easy to grow up as Vince's daughter to begin with (and it certainly hasn't gotten any easier over time).


Stephanie was born September 24, 1976, in Hartford, Connecticut, the second of two children to Vince and Linda McMahon, with older brother Shane nearly seven years her elder. After graduating from Boston University in 1998, Stephanie began her WWE career as an account executive.

First appearing on screen in November of 1998, Stephanie stood idly by backstage as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin passed, looking for his then-adversary, The Undertaker. Soon after, she became an integral piece in their rivalry in a feud that evolved into The Corporate Ministry saga with Vince ultimately revealed as "The Higher Power" behind it all. From an on-screen perspective, Stephanie's most memorable role is probably that of Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, marrying Triple H in storyline to kickstart "The McMahon-Helmsley Era" with the duo comprising The Authority.


In real life, Stephanie McMahon Levesque has held a multitude of roles in WWE over the years, including Creative Director, Chief Brand Officer, and most recently, Co-Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman, from which she resigned upon Vince's return in 2023. And she has been married to Paul "Triple H" Levesque, with whom she shares three daughters, since 2003.

Here's a closer look at some of the more tumultuous events that Stephanie has had to endure.

Rumored romances

Unfair though it may be, one of the things that simply comes with the territory of being in the public eye is the fact that people will make assumptions, draw conclusions, and downright make things up about the public figure in question. No subject is off limits and no person exempt, meaning who Stephanie McMahon may or may not be romantically linked to off-screen was fair game from the minute she stepped onto the screen.


Andrew "Test" Martin was Stephanie's on-screen boyfriend prior to the onset of The McMahon-Helmsley Era (and the victim, therefore, upon Triple H's revelation of a drive-thru marriage to Stephanie in Las Vegas just before she could marry Test on "Raw"). In the time leading up to the planned wedding between Test and McMahon, the couple executed their parts well enough to lead plenty of fans to speculate about actual chemistry between the two. In reality, Stephanie had already begun dating Triple H behind the scenes and it stands to reason that the blur factor hanging over this television love triangle and what was actually going on was heavy to say the least. Add to all of that the real-life drama that is whether or not Triple H was still dating Chyna when he and McMahon got together and things get even muddier.


Wilder than all that is the longstanding rumor that a much younger Stephanie once dated "Macho Man" Randy Savage. Now, if you do the math, Stephanie's birth year of 1976 plus 18 equals 1994, which is the year that Savage left WWE, never to return. That alone is enough to healthily feed an urban legend, which again, is all this appears to be when you dig in just a bit. Dutch Mantell, however, stated on his "Story Time" podcast that this "rumor" was "more or less accepted as fact."

"It was repeated over and over and over again," Mantell added. "I think Randy may have crossed the equator, may have dallied a bit with Stephanie. Can I say it was true? No, I can't say it was true. You can call it a rumor but I've always heard that story."

Benoit death

On June 25th, 2007, upon learning of the news of the deaths of Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy, and their son Daniel, WWE canceled its original plans for "Raw," instead airing a mix of matches and other highlights of his career, along with taped tributes from many of his fellow performers. Only very late in that broadcast did the company learn of the morbid details behind what was to be revealed as a double murder-suicide at Benoit's hands. Stephanie McMahon was one of the many who paid tribute to Benoit, prior to learning of the details of the horrific event, because of which, WWE aired statements prior to ensuing episodes of "ECW" and "SmackDown," denouncing the prior celebration and instead dedicating those shows to "everyone affected" by the incident.


For her part, Stephanie called Benoit "an amazing wrestler," adding that he was "passionate," about wrestling, yes, but also, "he was also passionate about family." She broke up when reminiscing about "how much he loved his children," and recalling their many visits over the years to arenas in which WWE events were being held. This, of course, is incredibly difficult to watch now, knowing the full details of what transpired at Benoit's Fayetteville, Georgia home on that fateful weekend.

With all of that in mind, the emotional roller coaster that those who knew the Benoits went on in the hours, days, weeks, and months following the news is beyond difficult to comprehend. From the immediate, extreme sadness that comes with an unexpected loss being compounded by this happening in triplicate, to later that evening, sure confusion and denial as details emerged, to the sheer anger for what Benoit had done, all while still processing the profound sense of grief from it all; this is a situation that no one with a heart would wish upon their worst enemy.


Connor Michalek death

It goes without saying that if you were watching WWE between 2012-14, young Connor "The Crusher" Michalek touched your heart in one way or another. Diagnosed with brain cancer at age three, Connor underwent multiple surgeries and several rounds of chemotherapy and had to relearn how to walk and talk. In October of 2012, with the help of his parents, Michalek posted a video to YouTube asking to meet then-WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan. The post went viral and two months later, his wish came true. He would meet Bryan and other WWE superstars on several occasions thereafter, including a "match," complete with ring entrance and WWE personnel surrounding the ring to watch, prior to an episode of "Raw" in which "The Crusher" pinned Triple H. The moment was captured on video and replayed on WWE television time and again, bringing smiles to all.


Connor's condition was terminal but in April of 2014, he was able to sit at ringside at WrestleMania XXX to watch his hero Daniel Bryan win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. He died less than three weeks later at just 8 years old.

Months later, Stephanie McMahon, along with Triple H, founded Connor's Cure, a non-profit charity for pediatric cancer research, in his memory, and in 2015, Michalek was honored with the first-ever Warrior Award, presented as part of that year's Hall of Fame class.

Following Michalek's death, Stephanie penned a heartfelt editorial for The Huffington Post titled "An Angel On Earth." She detailed the time she first met Connor, him explaining his patented "choke out hug," learning from his father that his time was severely limited, and how they came up with the idea to get him to WrestleMania XXX if he could just hang on long enough, which doctors did not expect him to do. In closing, McMahon wrote the following:


"I believe everything happens for a reason. I feel humbled and privileged that Connor somehow chose WWE to spread his message through our vast audience. Connor's message is clear and simple: Life is all about love, be grateful for that love everyday, and give it unconditionally to others. And be sure to give those closest to you a big 'choke out' hug."

HHH heart issues

As couples go in the world of professional wrestling, one would be hard-pressed to find another that suits the term "power couple" quite like Stephanie and her husband, Paul Levesque, better known in wrestling circles as Triple H and now WWE's Chief Content Officer in the post-Vince McMahon era. In that time, the product has been inarguably better and more consistent, with Levesque drawing praise far and wide. But even a power couple can feel awfully powerless when one of the two falls on hard times as far as health matters go.


In September of 2021, WWE revealed that Levesque had suffered a "cardiac event" and therefore had to undergo a procedure at Yale New Haven Hospital. The only other details that were made known immediately were that the event was caused by a genetic issue and that he was expected to make a full recovery. Months later, McMahon would relay to MailSport's Alex McCarthy that Levesque was "doing great" but nothing further was revealed until March of 2022, in the weeks leading up to WrestleMania 38, Levesque appeared on ESPN's "First Take" and provided a much deeper look into just how grave things had become for him prior to surgery.

Ejection fraction is a percentage-based measurement of the total amount of blood the heart is pumping with each beat. Levesque explained that while "55-65% of your ejection fraction is a good number, [he] was at 30." By the time he got to the emergency room, it was down to 22, and the next morning, 12.


"So, I was nosediving and sort of at the one-yard-line [of] where you don't want to be, really, for your family and your future," Levesque said. "We have three young girls. You know, suddenly, I come home, I'm a little bit sick and their dad who's strong is always suddenly in the hospital. There's moments in there when [being placed under anesthesia] you think, 'Is this it? Do you wake up from this? That's tough to swallow and makes you think.'"

Thankfully, doctors were able to stabilize Levesque and get him back to living a healthy life, although his in-ring career was pronounced over.

First leave of absence

In May of 2022, Stephanie McMahon Levesque announced via her X (formerly Twitter) account that she would be taking a leave of absence from the majority of her responsibilities at WWE, which she called "a lifelong legacy," and noting that she'd look forward to return after taking appropriate time to focus on her family. Considering the timing at face value, given the fact that less than a year prior, she was dangerously close to losing her husband and the father of her three children, wanting to focus on her family for an indefinite period of time makes perfect sense. But looking back on all that happened beginning soon after, anyone asking a few more questions about the timing would be well within their rights.


Family responsibilities do stretch well beyond one's own children and in less than a month from Stephanie's leave of absence, Vince McMahon stepped away from his WWE responsibilities as CEO and Chairman of the Board, as an investigation into a $3 million settlement paid to a former employee with whom Vince allegedly had an affair was reported by the Wall Street Journal. It would certainly be plausible to think that Stephanie may have desired to step back while she could and spend plenty of time with her family while she prepared for what would be next.

That, of course, was her appointment as interim Chairwoman and CEO, replacing Vince, and stating via X that she "loved WWE and all it continues to do to entertain billions around the world." She pledged to assume the role until the conclusion of the investigation into the allegations, seemingly in an effort to ensure as smooth a transition as possible but in a matter as messy as something such as this, that was bound to get clunky as it soon would.


Steph resigns from WWE

Kicking off the new year in true Vince McMahon fashion, the former chairman came out of retirement and reinstated himself to the WWE Board of Directors in January of 2023. We know now that this was a precursor to the WWE merger with UFC, to form TKO Holdings, but the news at the time really hit the accelerator less than a week later when Stephanie resigned her post as co-CEO (alongside Nick Khan).


Announcing the move via X, Stephanie invoked the longtime WWE catchphrase, "Then. Now. Forever. Together." She would then go on to note the privilege it was to serve as Co-CEO and Chairwoman, the pride she took in leading the company; she also bestowed praise upon the leadership team, specifically, Khan, whom she called "one of the strongest executives [she has] known." Stephanie would continue, saying that VInce's return leads "an exciting process regarding strategic alternatives," alongside Paul "Triple H" Levesque as CCO, and exhibiting confidence in the company's ability to provide both best-in-class creative as well as maximum value for shareholders.

What we know now, again, is that this all led to the WWE/UFC merger, satisfying the latter of those two specific confidences Stephanie expressed. And of course, Levesque's creative has continued to draw consistent praise from the masses. But all of this had an ugly look about it and the stress that it brought upon Stephanie surely was not ideal — especially will everything repulsive that was still to come about her father.


Vince McMahon lawsuit and allegations

In late January 2024, former WWE employee Janel Grant filed a lawsuit, naming Vince McMahon, former WWE Head of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis, and WWE itself as defendants; the complaint alleged sexual assault and trafficking on the part of McMahon and Laurinaitis during Grant's tenure in the company.


The allegations outlined in the suit — allegations McMahon has denied — were heinous enough to draw reactions from across the wrestling world, including dozens of performers who worked closely with and for McMahon for years. But to date, Stephanie McMahon has had no comment on the matter. What she is processing and how she is processing it is impossible to speculate upon other than to say that it's another one of those situations one wouldn't wish upon one's worst enemy.

Perhaps former WCW President, one-time McMahon adversary, and later an employee summed it up best. Speaking on his "83 Weeks" podcast, Bischoff put Vince McMahon in company with a family name that also reaches nearly unparalleled levels of abhorrence.


"The name 'McMahon,'" he said, "[is] going to be right there with Chris Benoit in the minds of a lot of people. It'll be a name not to be mentioned."

Turning his thoughts toward the rest of the McMahon family — Shane, Stephanie, Linda, and several grandchildren — Bischoff added, "These are people that I've met and have worked with, and I'm seeing how they've treated others, and they're having to bear this as well. There are so many people [with WWE] that are working hard every day and are good family people, honest people that contribute to society and help others. I mean really good people that I know there personally and they're affected by this."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).