5:17 PM PT — Stephanie McMahon addressed the WWE universe for the first time since her father, Vince, retired earlier today, thanking him for his commitment to the company over the decades and leading the fans in a “Thank you, Vince” chant.
Vince McMahon — the longtime chairman and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment — is retiring from his role with the company, he announced Friday.
“As I approach 77 years old, I feel it’s time for me to retire as Chairman and CEO of WWE,” McMahon said in a statement.
“Throughout the years, it’s been a privilege to help WWE bring you joy, inspire you, thrill you, surprise you, and always entertain you.”
“I would like to thank my family for mightily contributing to our success, and I would also like to thank all of our past and present Superstars and employees for their dedication and passion for our brand.”
Vince bought the company from his father, Vincent J. McMahon in 1982 … and has been the face of the brand ever since.
The billionaire is also the mastermind behind WrestleMania … which just had its 38th installmentthis past April.
McMahon bought WWE’s biggest competitor, World Championship Wrestling, in 2001 … making his company the most dominant organization in the sport.
“Most importantly, I would like to thank our fans for allowing us into your homes every week and being your choice of entertainment,” he added. “I hold the deepest appreciation and admiration for our generations of fans all over the world who have liked, currently like, and sometimes even love our form of Sports Entertainment.”
Vince recently stepped away from his role as chairman and CEO … amid an investigation into alleged misconduct. His daughter, Stephanie, was named interim CEO and interim Chairwoman.
The investigation comes after a report claiming McMahon allegedly agreed to pay $12 million in “hush money” to 4 different women over a 16-year time period … so they would not discuss their relationships with him.
McMahon appeared on “WWE SmackDown!” shortly after he voluntarily stepped down … and made a speech that felt like a goodbye message to fans.