IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Judge says Mike Lindell must pay $5 million to man who won his 'Prove Mike Wrong' challenge

The ruling paves the way for Robert Zeidman to begin collection efforts after winning the MyPillow founder’s challenge to debunk his stolen-election claims.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell at Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach, Fla., on April 4, 2023.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell at Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach, Fla., on April 4, 2023.Octavio Jones / Getty Images file

A federal judge is giving MyPillow founder and election denier Mike Lindell 30 days to pay a $5 million arbitration award for losing his “Prove Mike Wrong” 2020 election challenge.

The decision Wednesday by a judge in Minneapolis affirmed an arbitration panel’s ruling last year that Lindell has to pay up for losing his own 2021 contest challenging experts to prove that data he had in his possession was not from the 2020 election.

The plaintiff in the case, Robert Zeidman, “is awarded $5 million plus post-judgment interest beginning April 19, 2023, to be paid within 30 days of issuance of this Order, per the Arbitration Award,” U.S. District Judge John R. Tunheim wrote in his ruling.

Lindell told NBC News he’d likely appeal the decision in the “corrupt” case, but Zeidman’s attorney Brian Glasser said that wouldn’t stop him from having to pay up in the meantime.

“If you want to stop the collection effort you have to post a bond,” Glasser said. If Lindell does not do so, “we have the right to use collection mechanisms to try to find the money,” including by seizing bank accounts and using subpoena power to track Lindell’s assets, Glasser said.

He said he didn’t believe Lindell would have any better luck with an appeal, because the standard for review in arbitration cases is “super high.”

Lindell said in a phone interview that Lindell Management LLC is the company that put on the event, not him personally, and that he’s strapped for cash. He said while his pillow company is “doing fine,” “I don’t have any money.” “I have a pickup truck and a house that I live in. That’s it,” he said.

Glasser’s client is a software developer and Trump supporter who’d attended an August 2021 cyber-symposium in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, that was being hosted by Lindell, an outspoken election denier and conspiracy theorist who maintains that the 2020 election was stolen.

Zeidman was excited to see what evidence Lindell had turned up to back his claims and testified before the arbitration panel that he entered the contest because he “wanted access to the data as promised to see ‘history in the making, perhaps to see an election overturned,’” the arbitrators’ ruling said. Zeidman “told his friends that he was unlikely to win because Mr. Lindell would not offer a $5 million prize if Mr. Lindell had not had his own experts vet all the data to be presented,” the ruling added.

Zeidman said he was given 11 files to review in two days at the conference.

“Much to his chagrin, he found it wasn’t 2020 election data,” Glasser said last year.

Lindell’s contest panel did not agree with Zeidman’s findings, so the dispute went before an arbitration panel.

In his ruling, Tunheim said, “A court’s review of an arbitration award is very limited.” The Federal Arbitration Act “requires that an arbitration be upheld unless it is obtained by ‘corruption, fraud, or undue means,’ where there is ‘evident partiality or corruption in the arbitrators,’ where there was misconduct by the arbitrators, or where the arbitrators exceeded their powers,” the judge wrote, noting that a federal appeals court has held that “an arbitration award will be vacated only where it is ‘completely irrational or evidences a manifest disregard for the law.’”

In Lindell’s case, the judge said he had concerns about the way the panel interpreted some of the contract language at the heart of the case, but “not enough to vacate the award.”

“Even though the Court may have reached a different outcome given an independent initial review of the information, the Court fails to identify evidence that the panel exceeded its authority. Under the Court’s narrow review, it will confirm the arbitration award,” the judge wrote.

Lindell told NBC News last year that he could no longer afford to pay the attorneys who’d been defending him in defamation lawsuits brought by voting machine companies Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems, as well as a third lawsuit brought by former Dominion employee Eric Coomer.

“We’ve lost everything, every dime,” he said in a phone interview in October. “All of it is gone.”