InfoWars’ Alex Jones now has the full weight of a $45.2 million fine sitting on his balding head after a jury determined the man who made a fortune broadcasting conspiracies and lies must finally pay for them. The jury announced the punitive damages owed to the parents of Sandy Hook victims after 4 hours of deliberation Friday.
This new set of damages owed is in addition to another $4.1 million he was ordered to pay by the jury Thursday in compensatory damages to the families of children killed in 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School. Jones repeatedly claimed the shooting was a “false flag” staged by gun control proponents. The plaintiffs in this case originally asked for $150 million.
Though how much he actually has to pay will likely depend on further litigation, according to attorneys. The Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code restricts punitive damages to a max of two times compensatory damages plus $750,000 (check out Sec. 41.008). Though according to The New York Times, one of the parents’ attorneys Mark Bankston told reporters that the issue will likely end up in Texas Supreme Court.
The court brought in forensic economist Bernard Pettingill to discuss Jones’ net worth, largely earned through the InfoWars online channel and store. Pettingill told the jury that Jones is manager or agent for somewhere around nine private entities that aren’t publicly traded. Apparently, based on all that information, Pettingill said Jones may have been making in the ballpark of $53.2 million a year between September 2015 and December 2018. Jones has paid himself around $6 million a year, equalling $18 million over three years, the economist estimated.
In effect, Pettingill said Jones may have made even more money after he was deplatformed from social sites like Twitter back in 2018. The economist estimated the conspiratorial broadcaster’s net worth combined with the value of his main company, Free Speech Systems, at between $135 million and $270 million.
Jones doesn’t just sell his own brand of nonsense, but also peddles supplements through his site. Questions of his net worth have come up before. Earlier this year, he tried to declare Chapter 11 “reorganization” bankruptcy after losing another defamation case in Connecticut because he did not show up to court. Last week, he declared bankruptcy for Free Speech Systems as well. In that April bankruptcy filing, InfoWars was listed as having assets in the $0-$50,000 range and liabilities between $1 and $10 million. The Huffington Post wrote earlier this year that Jones’ supplement and survival gear peddling made the company $165 million over three years. Earlier this week, Jones said of the bankruptcy filing: “that’s why they do this, to deliver this giant judgement on already-guilty Alex Jones that they hope is too big to even get a bond on. Well once you declare bankruptcy, it’s all there in the court.”
But there’s also a consideration of how his many other holding companies like PLJR Holding and AEJ Austin Holdings LLC have potentially helped move money away Free Speech Systems, as has been alleged by the Sandy Hook parents. Pettingill said it’s hard to determine how much Jones is worth because of how spread out his wealth is, but, after Jones was ruled liable in the Sandy Hook cases, the conspiracy theorist started moving $11,000 per day into these shell companies.
“The numbers don’t add up,” the forensic economist told the court.
The InfoWars founder made almost $4 million a week after being booted from social media, according to one of the text messages his lawyer accidentally sent to the plaintiffs’ counsel. One of the plaintiff’s attorneys, Wesley Todd Ball, called InfoWars a “media empire” and said Jones would just keep lying if the jury didn’t financially kneecap it. Ball said before deliberations that the $4.1 million fine levied against Jones was “less than 2% of what we know” of Jones’ total wealth.
“You think he just randomly stumbled backwards into $4 million, in one week?” Ball said. “When this man talks, he lies.”
Though Jones has admitted that the shooting was “100% real,” the case has unveiled just how much Jone’s constant lies about Sandy Hook have hurt the families of its victims. Parent Neil Heslin, who’s 6-year-old son was killed in 2012, said Alex Jones’ conspiracies made life a “living hell” saying that his home had been shot at and that he had found bullet casings in his driveway. Attorneys for the parents argued that Jones’ rhetoric painted a target on parents’ backs for the thousands of avid InfoWars conspiracists.
Update 08/06/2022 at 7 a.m. ET: This post was updated to include information about Texas’ civil laws determining punitive damages.