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Federal judge says MyPillow's Mike Lindell must pay $5M in election data dispute

Federal judge: MyPillow's Mike Lindell must pay $5 million in election data dispute
Federal judge: MyPillow's Mike Lindell must pay $5 million in election data dispute 00:25

A federal judge on Wednesday affirmed a $5 million arbitration award against MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell in favor of a software engineer who challenged data that Lindell said proves China interfered in the 2020 U.S. presidential election and tipped the outcome to Joe Biden.

Lindell said he plans to appeal. Asked if he can afford to pay, he pointed out that the breach-of-contract lawsuit was against one of his companies, Lindell Management LLC, and not against him personally.

"Of course we're going to appeal it. This guy doesn't have a dime coming," Lindell said.

RELATED: Election denier and "MyPillow Guy" Mike Lindell confirms he's out of money, can't pay legal bills

Lindell, a prominent promoter of false claims that voting machines were manipulated to steal the 2020 election, launched his "Prove Mike Wrong Challenge," as part of a "Cyber Symposium" he hosted in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in August 2021. Lindell offered a $5 million reward through Lindell Management for anyone who could prove that "packet captures" and other data he released there were not valid data "from the November 2020 election."

Robert Zeidman entered the challenge with a 15-page report that concluded the data from Lindell don't "contain packet data of any kind and do not contain any information related to the November 2020 election." A panel of contest judges that included a Lindell attorney declined to declare Zeidman a winner. So Zeidman filed for arbitration under the contest rules.

A panel of three arbitrators last April unanimously ordered Lindell to pay Zeidman $5 million, concluding that he had satisfied the contest rules. In Wednesday's ruling, U.S. District Judge John Tunheim expressed concern about how the panel interpreted what he called a "poorly written contract," but said courts have only limited authority to overrule arbitration awards. He ordered Lindell to pay up with interest within 30 days.

RELATED: "I have done nothing wrong": Mike Lindell says MyPillow lost $100 million after election fraud claims

Lindell is also the subject of a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems in the District of Columbia that says he falsely accused the company of rigging the 2020 presidential election. He's also the target of a separate defamation lawsuit in Minnesota by a different voting machine company, Smartmatic.

Lindell has conceded that he and MyPillow are struggling financially. Fox News, which had been one of his biggest advertising platforms, stopped running MyPillow commercials in January in a payment dispute. Two law firms that had been defending him against lawsuits by Dominion and Smartmatic quit last fall. He acknowledged that he owed them millions of dollars.

"We're not able to pay — I can't borrow money to pay these attorneys. MyPillow can't pay because of what happened" with lost sales, Lindell said. "I have $10,000 to my name."

Additionally, MyPillow auctioned off more than 700 pieces of company equipment, ranging from forklifts to office desks and cubicles. 

At the time Lindell said that the auction reflected a change from big box and mall store sales to a direct-to-consumer approach. He said MyPillow had to work quickly after stores like Walmart and Bed Bath & Beyond "canceled" his product and that the company had a large amount of inventory with which to deal. 

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