Florida Gov. DeSantis Declares Wrestling ‘Essential’ Business On Same Day WWE’s McMahon Starts $18 Million Ad Campaign For GOP
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) classified professional wrestling as an “essential” business because people are “starved for content” during the coronavirus shutdown.
“Obviously, WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), there’s no crowd of anything, so it’s a very small amount of people,” DeSantis said during a news conference on Tuesday. He added that the shows will help those “starved for content.”
“I think people are chomping at the bit,” he said. “I mean, if you think about it, we’ve never had a period like this in modern American history where you’ve had such little new content, particularly in the sporting realm. I mean, people are watching, we’re watching, like, reruns from the early 2000s, watching Tom Brady do the Super Bowl then, which is neat because he’s gonna be in Tampa and I think they have a chance to win a Super Bowl this year. But I think people, to be able to have some light at the tunnel, see that things may get back on a better course — I think from just a psychological perspective I think is a good thing.”
While the events are taking place in empty arenas, the physical contact in wrestling is unavoidable and one staffer has already tested positive for the virus, according to WWE. Up until the decision, WWE had been broadcasting taped shows.
The “essential” business ruling may be linked to a large advertising initiative that was announced the same day as DeSantis’ decision, and involves spending $18.5 million in Florida.
WWE CEO Linda McMahon operates a pro-Trump super PAC which is launching a political advertising campaign ahead of the general election in November.
In a statement about the decision, WWE did not mention any financial motives.
“We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times … [a]s a brand that has been woven into the fabric of society, WWE and its Superstars bring families together and deliver a sense of hope, determination and perseverance,” the statement said.