Last Week Tonight Wrestles with WWE over Treatment of Its Athletes

TAGS: John Oliver, Vince McMahon, WrestleMania, healthcare, working conditions, last week tonight, WWE wrestler, life expectancy, professional wrestling, wrestler, wwe, athlete

Die-hard WWE fans might have something else to jeer at aside from the bad guy at WrestleMania 35 on Sunday, April 7th.

On the March 31st episode of Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver called out the WWE for the working conditions of its wrestlers. Oliver shared statistics regarding the average life expectancy of a professional wrestler, which is lower than that of an NFL football player.

Both sports report high rates of injuries, so why is one better than the other?

Healthcare may be part of the explanation, as well as the lack of an off-season for wrestlers. Surely an organization as wealthy as the WWE covers healthcare expenses for their employees. Well, there’s a catch: the wrestlers aren’t traditional employees. WWE wrestlers are hired as contractors, which means the WWE doesn’t have to pay a cent for their healthcare or a retirement fund.

This often means retired wrestlers return to the WWE for more money or have to rely on fan contributions to a GoFundMe.

As a result, Oliver encouraged WWE fans to make some noise about the organization's hiring practices, healthcare, retirement funds, and better treatment of their favorite wrestlers during WrestleMania 35.

McMahon was less than pleased with Last Week Tonight’s coverage of the topic. The WWE sent a statement to Deadline condemning the segment while simultaneously inviting Oliver to attend WrestleMania to learn more about the company.

Header image credit: Miguel Discart © Flickr

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