World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: WWE) stock traded slightly lower Monday after HBO “Last Week Tonight” talk show host John Oliver focused on the lack of benefits WWE talent receive due to their independent contractor status.
Oliver discussed exactly what it means that WWE talent are classified as independent contractors. He focused mostly on the lack of health benefits that certain WWE performers have received in the past both during and after their time working for WWE. Oliver’s report contained past interviews with several former WWE talents, including Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Bret Hart, CM Punk and Jesse Ventura.
Oliver highlighted the fact that there is no good “exit plan” for performers looking to leave the business, and a number of stars have resorted to crowdfunding sites to raise money from fans to pay for medical procedures.
Why It’s Important
Oliver called for WWE fans to take to social media and bring attention to the fact that WWE’s classification of its performers as contractors can lead to financial hardship for the employees. He also called for fans attending Sunday’s WrestleMania event to make signs and creative chants bringing attention to the issue.
WWE issued the following statement on Monday in response to Oliver’s claims:
“John Oliver is clearly a clever and humorous entertainer, however the subject matter covered in his WWE segment is no laughing matter. Prior to airing, WWE responded to his producers refuting every point in his one-sided presentation. John Oliver simply ignored the facts.
The health and wellness of our performers is the single most important aspect of our business, and we have a comprehensive, longstanding Talent Wellness program. We invite John Oliver to attend WrestleMania this Sunday to learn more about our company.”
Oliver has previously targeted WWE for proceeding with its 2018 event in Saudi Arabia following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The market doesn’t seem to think fallout from Oliver’s show will have much of a financial impact on the company. Investors will be watching to see if fans respond to Oliver's show and cause any disruptions at Sunday's WrestleMania in New Jersey.
WWE traded around $84.48 per share Monday afternoon.
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