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Mike Lindell must pay man $5M in ‘Prove Mike Wrong’ challenge, judge says

In 2021, MyPillow founder Mike Lindell offered $5 million to anyone who could disprove his claim that he had data showing voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Now, he must pay a 64-year-old from Nevada that award, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Lindell, a prominent election denier and staunch supporter of former president Donald Trump, claimed to have data showing Chinese interference in the 2020 race. If someone could “Prove Mike Wrong,” as the challenge was called, and show the data was unrelated to the election, they would get the payout, Lindell said ahead of an August 2021 “cyber symposium” held in South Dakota where contestants would review the files.

Robert Zeidman, a computer forensics expert who voted for Trump twice, did just that, a federal judge in Minnesota determined Wednesday, upholding a previous ruling from a private arbitration panel. Zeidman is owed the $5 million payout plus interest, Judge John Tunheim wrote in his Wednesday ruling. The decision is the latest development in a years-long effort to claim the prize, after Zeidman found that the data was not related to the 2020 election.

Attorneys for Lindell did not immediately respond to request for comment Wednesday evening.

Zeidman originally took on Lindell’s challenge because “either way, I thought it would be a historic event,” he told The Washington Post on Wednesday. He said he is not sure he will actually receive the payout since Lindell can appeal Wednesday’s decision. But Zeidman, who is active in Republican politics, said he hopes those following the case understand that Lindell’s data was not related to the election.

“Getting the truth out is the most important thing,” he said.

In recent years, Lindell has been embroiled in legal and financial troubles, including a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems over false election claims.

The 2021 symposium was one of several ways Lindell amplified election-fraud falsehoods after Trump’s 2020 loss, The Post previously reported. To receive the challenge’s $5 million prize, Lindell asked his symposium participants to prove that the data “unequivocally does NOT reflect information related to the November 2020 election.”

Zeidman reviewed files during the three-day symposium, which he said friends had convinced him to attend.

“I thought it would be fun and exciting to be part of it,” Zeidman said. “I didn’t expect that I’d be the one so wrapped up in it and coming to the conclusion that I did.”

Zeidman found that the data did not prove election interference. He later testified during arbitration proceedings that the files he had been given as part of the “Prove Mike Wrong” challenge seemed to be random numbers and letters. One included a flow chart on how elections work and another listed IP addresses, Zeidman said during his testimony.

Zeidman compiled a 15-page report of his findings and sent a letter to Lindell’s firm asking for the reward. He filed for arbitration the next month after Lindell Management denied his payment request, and a private arbitration panel ruled that Zeidman — the only participant who had submitted a claim — had proved that the data was not related to the 2020 election. The panel required Lindell Management to pay Zeidman within 30 days.

The payment never arrived, and in May 2023, Zeidman asked a federal court to confirm his arbitration award. Shortly after, Lindell filed for its dismissal.

But the chances of a confirmation were in Zeidman’s favor, said his attorney, Brian Glasser. Under the Federal Arbitration Act, arbitration rulings are upheld unless they are found to be obtained by “corruption, fraud or undue means.”

“The Court’s responsibility in reviewing an arbitration award is not to reevaluate the merits but rather ensure that the panel acted appropriately,” Tunheim wrote in Wednesday’s ruling, adding that while Lindell Management’s “argument may be a compelling alternative interpretation,” the arbitration review standard ”does not weigh competing interpretations.”

Wednesday’s ruling, Zeidman said, made him feel “a little more optimistic” about receiving the $5 million.

“I still think chances are probably small that I’ll see it,” he said. “But again, I wish people would get the lesson that it’s okay to challenge your own beliefs.”

Chris Dehghanpoor, Emma Brown and Jon Swaine contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post