Mike Lindell, the MyPillow founder and Trump ally who has been a leading voice in pushing conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, must pay $5 million to a software forensics expert who debunked a series of false claims as part of a “Prove Mike Wrong” contest, an arbitration panel said on Wednesday.
Mr. Lindell had issued the challenge at a “cyber symposium” in South Dakota in 2021, saying he had data that would support his claims that there was Chinese interference in the election and offering the seven-figure prize to anyone who could prove the data had no connection to the 2020 election.
And because the software expert, Robert Zeidman, successfully did so, Mr. Lindell would have to pay up, ordered the panel, which was composed of three members of the American Arbitration Association.
“Almost everyone there was pro-Trump and everyone said, ‘This data is nonsense,’” Mr. Zeidman said in an interview on Thursday, identifying himself as a Republican who voted twice for former President Donald J. Trump. “A false narrative about election fraud is just really damaging to this country.”
The ruling against Mr. Lindell was earlier reported by The Washington Post.
Mr. Zeidman, who is from Las Vegas, filed the arbitration claim against Mr. Lindell in November 2021 after the contest’s organizers rejected his findings. The claim was filed in Minnesota, Mr. Lindell’s home state.
Mr. Lindell, who has spent millions of dollars on partisan reviews of voting data and efforts to bolster election skeptics across the country, vowed in an interview to challenge the panel’s ruling.
“This is disgusting,” he said. He questioned Mr. Zeidman’s credentials and mused about how he had been granted admission to the symposium.
The $5 million claim against Mr. Lindell is a pittance compared with a pending $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit that the election equipment company Dominion Voting Systems filed against him in 2021 over his assertions that its machines were part of a plot to steal the election. This week, the company reached a $787.5 million settlement with Fox News as part of a similar defamation lawsuit.