Has Linda McMahon Been Bankrupt TWICE? Or Is She Lying About the Circumstances?

All right, so The Daily Beast becomes the latest mainstream publication to be snookered  by the McMahon family. Don’t look here for another rant about that.

I do, however, want to point out – since I don’t believe anyone else yet has – that in this interview Linda McMahon seems to fuse two different pieces of her personal narrative, in a way that calls into question both pieces. Heretofore, that narrative had involved her rather strange bragging about the fact that she and her husband Vince went bankrupt in the 1970s.

To be clear, which is not something politicians are good at, that appears to have been during the period when Vince got overextended after going all-in on promoting the 1974 Evel Knievel Snake River Canyon Jump as a national closed-circuit event in movie theaters. (Or perhaps that event plus the equally disastrous mixed fight in 1976 between boxing champion Muhammad Ali and Japanese pro wrestler Antonio Inoki.)

Whether or not I have that detail right, it certainly was during the time when the McMahons lived in New Britain, Connecticut. In response to a recent newspaper report attempting to dig up the bankruptcy filing, the McMahon campaign acknowledged that Linda and Vince defaulted at the time on debts of around a million dollars.

But the Daily Beast account tells a different narrative: that of a welfare mom.

She was married at 17 and soon pregnant, and the young family struggled financially. She was a stay-at-home mom with two little kids and Vince was working for his father, a small-time wrestling promoter, and having a hard time making a living. At one point, when they were living in Gaithersburg, Maryland, in the 1970s, they went bankrupt and briefly depended on food stamps.

“I think it was one or two weeks when we were on food stamps, when Vince was working at a rock quarry, making little ones out of big ones, working about 90 hours a week,” McMahon tells me. “I’d get up early in the morning and pack an almost hockey bag-sized athletic bag for sandwiches, a couple of thermoses and hot meals.”

Being down and out and needing government assistance was “not fun,” she says. “I didn’t like it at all, and I just said, ‘You know, I can’t do that,’ ” she recalls. “I’d rather find another job and supplement our income. That’s actually when Vince took on more hours at the rock quarry…After our son Shane was born we saved S&H Green Stamps, and actually bought a high chair and Shane’s formula with them.”

Linda, who is 61 years old, would have been 17 in 1966. That is not in the 1970s, when according to this account “they were living in Gaithersburg, Maryland [and] went bankrupt and briefly depended on food stamps.”

“Bankrupt” here seems to be a generic term rather than a business-law definition of their condition. Welfare moms don’t often say they are bankrupt; they say they are in serious poverty and can’t feed their children.

Further, the more familiar McMahon bankruptcy narrative has her not with one young son, but with that son, plus pregnant with her daughter, in Connecticut.

Which is it? Or is it both? Was Linda McMahon bankrupt once or bankrupt twice? Or is she now trying to add “welfare mom” to her resume to make herself seem more likeable than in the original tale of being a million-dollar deadbeat?

Irv Muchnick

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September 2010

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