Mike Lindell, the My Pillow Guy and prominent 2020 election denier, needs to lay out a lot more cushions on his legs to stop him from shooting himself in the foot. His mealy-mouthed rhetoric surrounding the “Big Lie” caused him to make easily-disproved proclamations and more than a few promises he could not keep. Two years ago, Lindell promised anybody a $5 million prize if they could prove that Chinese hackers did not mess with U.S. voting machines to elect President Joe Biden. On Wednesday, one cyber forensics expert finally came to collect.
The payout traces back to a “cyber symposium” Lindell hosted back in 2021. He invited all his favorite friends and frenemies, including former Trump administration officials, cybersecurity professionals, and news media to once again hash out the “Big Lie” live. At the symposium, Lindell said his “evidence” consisted of network traffic data that he promised would show the Dominion voting machines had been rigged by Chinese hackers in favor of President Joe Biden. He also announced a $5 million reward for anyone willing to “Prove Mike Wrong” about his data.
The whole event fell apart once Josh Merritt, the “cyber expert” hired to share the information, told Lindell he and his team couldn’t verify any of what the election denier was saying.
At the time, Merritt said that the $5 million bounty to “Prove Mike Wrong” was “no longer on the table,” though at least one cyber professional felt differently. Robert Zeidman, who The Washington Post described as a Trump voter and computer forensics expert, said he examined Lindell’s data and found it was not related to the 2020 election. He submitted his claim on the $5 million bounty to the American Arbitration Association, who on Wednesday agreed Zeidman was indeed owed the multi-million dollar payout because, well, he proved Mike wrong.
On Twitter, Zeidman, the president of a software analysis company, posted a cryptic message Wednesday simply saying “I won!” He further told the Post that “the data we were given at the symposium was not at all what Mr. Lindell said it was.” Lindell, on the other hand, told the outlet “This will be going to court.”
According to the arbitration document provided to the Post, the payout has to come from Lindell LLC. The 23-page document describes the back and forth between Friedman and Lindell’s lawyers arguing the finer points of the data analysis. According to the document, Zeidman was provided several pdfs and text files—including ones that were simply “gibberish”— and a .mp4 video file with no sound showing a screen capture of extracted computer code. Lindell’s attorneys argued that the code in the video was related to the election.
But Lindell’s attorneys couldn’t actually show what resulted from the data extraction or prove that the data shown in the video had anything to do with election data. The other files offered to contestants included random hexadecimal data that contained “IP addresses and numbers ranking the addresses from high to low.” Lindell’s lawyers said the IP addresses were linked to China. Zeidman was also provided several large .bin files that he couldn’t open with regular tools like Wireshark, adding that he could find no way to extract the data. Generally, it seems like Lindell would’ve been fooled by a Matrix text screensaver if you said it was proof that the election was stolen.
All in all, the My Pillow Guy shouldn’t be too stressed about a measly $5 million. Lindell is under federal investigation and remains in the middle of a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems. Just this week, the voting machine company finalized a $787.5 million settlement with Fox News, so now it may have more time to focus on Lindell as well as the multiple individuals and “news” networks who lied about the 2020 election.