North Carolina native, pro wrestling mogul tapped for Trump’s Cabinet

Linda McMahon talks with reporters after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, in New York.
Linda McMahon talks with reporters after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, in New York. AP

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the United State’s federal agency in charge of helping small businesses get loans and government contracts is a North Carolina native and big-time donor to Trump’s charity and to Republican candidates.

Linda McMahon, who twice unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate from Connecticut, grew a small, family-owned regional wrestling company with her husband, Vince, in the 1980s into the now-famous World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.

$6 million McMahon donation to pro-Trump super PAC

Trump announced Wednesday he’s chosen McMahon to serve as head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, a government agency that works with large banks to guarantee loans for entrepreneurs and small business owners. The appointment for a Cabinet-level position requires confirmation from the U.S. Senate.

McMahon grew up in New Bern, N.C., a small town in eastern North Carolina near the Cherry Point Marine Corps base, where both her parents worked.

Vince and Linda McMahon graduated from East Carolina University, where their family’s foundation has an endowment set up to pay for three specialized professors – one in foreign languages, one in business, and one in health-related studies. Linda McMahon studied French at ECU. Vince McMahon was a business major.

The McMahons also have two endowed scholarships at ECU named in their honor.

On Thursday, ECU’s Chancellor Cecil Staton and Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Chris Dyba issued statements in support of McMahon’s nomination.

“I’m always impressed how (ECU) Pirates contribute to our country and our economy. I’m grateful to Linda for her leadership and service,” Staton said.

Linda McMahon has given millions of dollars to Sacred Heart University, a Catholic school in Fairfield, Conn., where a student commons building bears her name. McMahon is vice chairwoman of the university’s board of trustees, according to the school’s website.

McMahon, who is 68, gave nearly $6 million this past campaign cycle to a super PAC backing Trump’s candidacy. Her family has also supported Trump’s foundation.

In a statement following the Trump team announcement, McMahon said: “As an entrepreneur myself, I have shared the experiences of our nation’s small business owners and will do my best to advocate on their behalf.

“My husband and I built our business from scratch, building it to a publicly traded global enterprise with more than 800 employees.”

Anna Douglas: 202-383-6012, @ADouglasNews