My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell has been ordered to shell out $5 million to an expert who debunked his data related to the 2020 election, according to a decision by the arbitration panel obtained by CNN.
Lindell, a purveyor of election conspiracies, vowed to award the multimillion-dollar sum to any cyber security expert who could disprove his data. An arbitration panel awarded Robert Zeidman, who has decades in software development experience, a $5 million payout on Wednesday after he sued Lindell over the sum.
CNN has obtained arbitration documents and video depositions, including a deposition of Lindell, related to the dispute.
“Based on the foregoing analysis, Mr. Zeidman performed under the contract,” the arbitration panel wrote in its decision. “He proved the data Lindell LLC provided, and represented reflected information from the November 2020 election, unequivocally did not reflect November 2020 election data. Failure to pay Mr. Zeidman the $5 million prized was a breach of the contract, entitling him to recover.”
The decision marks yet another blow to the MyPillow CEO’s credibility after he publicly touted unproven claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Lindell has also faced defamation suits related to his election claims.
“The lawsuit and verdict mark another important moment in the ongoing proof that the 2020 election was legal and valid, and the role of cybersecurity in ensuring that integrity,” said Brian Glasser, founder of Bailey & Glasser, LLP, who represented Zeidman. “Lindell’s claim to have 2020 election data has been definitively disproved.”
In a brief phone interview with CNN, Lindell said “this will end up in court” and slammed the media and professed the need to get rid of electronic voting machines.
Zeidman told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront” Thursday he was relieved by the judgment, adding that he sued not for the money, but to disprove election lies.
“I have some friends who I hope will still be friends because I am a conservative Republican,” Zeidman said. “But I thought the truth needed to come out.”
Lindell convened a so-called “cyber symposium” in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 2021, designed to showcase the data he claimed to have obtained related to the 2020 election. He invited journalists, politicians and cybersecurity experts to attend.
“The symposium was to get the big audience and have all the media there and then they – the cyber guys – saying yes this data is from the 2020 election and you better look at how they intruded into our machines, our computers, and that was the whole purpose,” Lindell said in a deposition obtained by CNN.
He also announced a “Prove Mike Wrong Challenge” – in which anyone who could prove his data was unrelated to the 2020 election could win the multimillion payout – to get more traction in the media for his election fraud claims.
“I thought, well what if I put up a $5 million challenge out there, then it would get news, which it did,” Lindell said in the deposition. “So, then you got some attention.”
Zeidman signed up for the challenge, agreed to its contractual terms and discovered Lindell’s data to be largely nonsensical.
“Normally data analysis could take weeks or months and I had three days,” Zeidman told CNN. “But the data was so obviously fake that I spent a few hours before I could show it was fake.”
While Lindell has made a variety of outlandish and unproven claims about the 2020 election, such as insisting foreign governments infiltrated voting machines, the arbitration panel made clear its judgment was solely focused on whether the data Lindell provided to experts was related to the 2020 election.
“The Contest did not require participants to disprove election interference. Thus, the contestants’ task was to prove the data presented to them was not valid data from the November 2020 election,” the arbitration panel wrote.
“The Panel was not asked to decide whether China interfered in the 2020 election. Nor was the Panel asked to decide whether Lindell LLC possessed data that proved such interference, or even whether Lindell LLC had election data in its possession,” according to the arbitration panel. “The focus of the decision is on the 11 files provided to Mr. Zeidman in the context of the Contest rules.”
The panel’s decision ticked through each of the data files provided Zeidman, determining repeatedly that the data was unrelated to the 2020 election.
It’s unclear when or if Zeidman will ever be able to collect his payout. Lindell recently told right-wing podcaster and former Trump administration official Steve Bannon that his company took out nearly $10 million in loans as he battles defamation suits related to his false election claims.
“I’m afraid he’s going to be out of money before I ever see my five million,” Zeidman told Burnett.
During his deposition, Lindell said he was never concerned someone might actually win the challenge.
“No, because they have to show it wasn’t from 2020 and it was,” Lindell said, chuckling.
This story has been updated with additional information.
CNN’s Jack Forrest contributed to this report.