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Mike Lindell

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Mike Lindell
Mike Lindell by Gage Skidmore (cropped).jpg
Lindell in 2020
Born
Michael James Lindell

(1961-06-28) June 28, 1961 (age 60)[1]
OccupationFounder and CEO of My Pillow
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
Karen Dickey
(divorced)

Dallas Yocum
(m. 2013; div. 2013)
Children4[2]
Websitemichaeljlindell.com

Michael James Lindell (born June 28, 1961),[4] also known as the My Pillow Guy,[5] is an American businessman and entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of My Pillow, Inc., a pillow, bedding, and slipper manufacturing company.[6][2][7][8] Lindell is the founder of the Lindell Foundation, a non-profit that helps addicts through providing treatments and other services.[9] Lindell is a prominent supporter of, and advisor to, former U.S. President Donald Trump. He has, without evidence, promoted the toxic plant extract oleandrin as a COVID-19 cure and supported attempts to overturn the 2020 United States presidential election.[10]

Early life

Lindell was born in 1961 in Mankato, Minnesota.[4] He was raised in Chaska and Carver, Minnesota.[6] Lindell's gambling addiction began to emerge in his teenager years, preluding his downfall to addiction.[11] He attended the University of Minnesota after high school,[when?] but dropped out a few months into his studies.[12] After leaving the university, Lindell focused his efforts into entrepreneurial business.

Career

In the 1980s, Lindell launched and operated a number of small businesses, including carpet cleaning, lunch wagons, and a few bars and restaurants in Carver County, Minnesota.[2][6] In his 20s, Lindell became addicted to and a frequent user of cocaine. This addiction became worse after crack cocaine was introduced to the market in the 1990s.[11] Lindell was also incurring gambling debts. The build up of his addictions between 1980s and 1990s, lead to the foreclosure of his house, and his wife filing for divorce. Lindell stated that he achieved sobriety through prayer in 2009.[6][9][13]

My Pillow

Lindell in 2018

Lindell invented the My Pillow pillow in 2004 and grew the business into a major Minnesota manufacturing company.[12][14]

In 2017, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) revoked accreditation of My Pillow, lowering its rating to an F based on a pattern of complaints by consumers. The BBB cited a buy one, get one free offer that became a continuous offer and therefore the normal price of the product, not a sale price or free offer.[15] In a statement, Lindell said, "Naturally, I am terribly disappointed by the BBB's decision."[15]

In 2020, Lindell named his son Darren as the company's chief operating officer, citing his own possible future political ambitions.[16]

In 2021, some major retailers stopped carrying My Pillow products. Lindell has suggested that this is a result of his claims relating to the 2020 United States presidential election results, although outlets like Kohl's and Bed, Bath and Beyond have stated this is due to market research and low customer demand.[17][18]

Frank

Frank
Frank: The Voice of Free Speech
Logo
Type of businessPrivate
Type of site
Political commentary
Available inEnglish
Founder(s)Mike Lindell
IndustryInternet
URLfrankspeech.com

In March 2021, media reported that Lindell was launching an alt-tech social media platform, which he described as a cross between YouTube and Twitter, that would be different from Gab and Parler. Originally called "Vocl," a dispute from a company that owned a web site called "Vocal" led Lindell to rename his site "Frank".[19] Frank launched on April 19, 2021, experiencing many technical issues which Lindell ascribed to a "massive attack".[20] Frank has no social networking features[21] and primarily offers embedded video streams, including Absolute Interference, a two-hour video promoting conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election.[22][23][24]

Lindell has said he has spent millions of dollars developing Frank.[25] According to invoices published by a Salon writer, obtained from a leaked video conference with Lindell's IT team, Lindell spent about $936,000 on hardware, labor, and services to launch Frank.[26] Jared Holt, an extremism and far-right media researcher at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab opined that Lindell was "being had by the people around him... All the various products and ventures Lindell has going on, whether it's a pseudo-documentary film or a social media platform, are very expensive endeavors. Someone is taking Lindell's money from him to produce this stuff."[27]

On April 28, Lindell told Steve Bannon on a podcast that Frank would launch again at a rally at the Corn Palace on May 10, 2021.[28] The rally filled about half of the Corn Palace's 3,000-person capacity[29] and did not include any substantive announcements about Frank, which continues to lack social networking features.[30]

Frank, based on its error messages, is written in Drupal. Several Drupal experts have criticized the way in which Frank was developed and deployed, including one who observed that Drupal is not designed to handle a large amount of user-generated content typically found on social media sites.[31] One journalist observed that Frank was using Amazon Web Services for video hosting despite Lindell's frequent criticism of "Big Tech".[26]

Philanthropy

During the early days of My Pillow, Mike Lindell made donations to the Salvation Army,[32] Union Gospel Mission,[33] and other organizations.

Mike Lindell founded the Lindell Foundation, a non-profit organization that assists former addicts in getting treatment and other services. The foundation broadened over time, including cancer victims and veterans in their outreach.[34]

In 2015, Lindell's company, My Pillow, donated pillows to Sandra J, Schulze American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, which houses patients and their caretakers who have to travel for treatment.[35][36]

Starting in 2017, Lindell's company donated pillows to charities alongside homeless shelters and hospitals in the Minnesota area.[37]

During the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, My Pillow donated 80,000 pillows to victims in Houston and other regions.[38]

In 2019, the Lindell Recovery Network was released nationwide to help addicts connect with other people and organizations help the recovery process. The Network allows the user to in-put their age and addiction to help find a mentor around their age that has gone through drug addiction and the recovery process. The Lindell Recovery Network has connected itself with over 3,500 treatment centers that are faith-based. Lindell commented that instead of focusing on telling someone they are an addict, he wants to focus on the healing process with peers that know about addiction.[34]

Political activities

Lindell at a Turning Point Action event in June 2020

In August 2016, Lindell met with then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump,[6][39][40] and became an avid supporter, calling Trump "the most amazing president this country has ever seen in history", following his 2016 election victory.[41] In a speech at Liberty University in August 2019, Lindell said "When I met with Donald Trump, it felt like a divine appointment, and when I walked out of that office I decided I was going to go all in."[42]

On October 19, 2016, Lindell attended the final presidential debate in Las Vegas.[43] He spoke at a Trump campaign rally in Minneapolis on November 6, 2016, and attended the Official Donald Watch Party on November 8. He attended Trump's inauguration, and Trump gave him an inauguration lapel pin as a personal gift.[41][44][39][45]

In 2017, Lindell sat next to Trump at an industry roundtable event at the White House.[46][47][6][40]

At a rally in Fargo, North Dakota, on June 27, 2018, Trump complimented Lindell for his "business acumen".[48] Lindell spoke at a Trump rally on October 4, 2018, in Rochester, Minnesota.[49] Lindell spoke at the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference, in which he promoted Trump as "the greatest president in history"[50] and "chosen by God".[16]

In 2019, Mike Lindell met with Donald Trump and his staffer on issues of opioid addiction. He was there when the president signed a bipartisan bill that addressed the growing opoid crisis and trying to prevent opioid abuse and death.[51][52]

In a March 2020 appearance on Fox News, Lindell said that his company's bedding factories had been refocused on face mask production at the behest of the Trump administration. Later that month, Lindell appeared with Trump at a White House coronavirus press conference, at which Lindell praised Trump: "God gave us grace on November 8, 2016, to change the course we were on. God had been taken out of our schools and lives, a nation had turned its back on God. I encourage you to use this time at home to get back in the word. Read our Bible and spend time with our families."[53]

Lindell has considered running for governor of Minnesota in 2022 against Democratic incumbent Tim Walz,[16][54] reportedly at Trump's urging.[16] He attended a Republican Governors Association meeting, at which he was encouraged to run.[16] In May 2020, he became the campaign chair for Trump's reelection campaign in Minnesota.[54] In July 2020, Lindell said he was "99% sure" about running for Minnesota governor.[55]

In November 2020, Lindell was identified as among those who paid for the bail of Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse.[56] Lindell responded to the accusations saying that he donated to "The Fight Back Foundation Inc. to help fund election fraud litigation, among other things" and that the story was "Fake News".[57]

Promotion of unproven COVID-19 cure

Lindell in December 2020

In White House meetings with Trump and public appearances, Lindell has promoted the toxic plant extract oleandrin as a cure for COVID-19, saying, "This thing works – it's the miracle of all time."[58] In a television appearance, Lindell made a misleading statement about the testing of the substance.[59] Lindell has a financial stake in Phoenix Biotechnology, a company that makes oleandrin, and sits on its board.[58] Lindell's unsubstantiated claims alarmed scientists, since there is no scientific evidence that oleandrin is a safe or effective coronavirus treatment, and there is evidence the plant is poisonous at low doses.[58][60][61][62] After the efforts by Lindell and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson to promote oleandrin, Trump said his administration would "look at" the substance.[58]

Attempts to overturn 2020 election

After Trump's defeat in the 2020 presidential election, Lindell played a significant role in supporting and financing Trump's attempts to overturn the election result.[63]

Lindell helped sponsor a bus tour that sought to challenge the election results. The two-week tour ended in Washington, D.C., on December 14, 2020, and Lindell spoke at five stops along the way. Lindell said that "he did not help finance subsequent trips to promote the Jan. 6 rally," referring to the rally that was followed by the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. Lindell attended this rally, but did not go to the Capitol.[63] Following the Capitol storming, Lindell was among those who advanced the false conspiracy theory that people associated with antifa were responsible for the attack, saying they had probably "dressed as Trump people".[64][65]

On January 15, 2021, Lindell carried a document into the West Wing of the White House; the document, as seen in an enhanced photo, appeared to refer to martial law and the Insurrection Act, as well as replacing Gina Haspel with Trump loyalist Kash Patel as the CIA director.[66][67]

Lindell promoted a conspiracy theory, popular with Trump supporters, that falsely claimed that voting machine companies Smartmatic and Dominion conspired with foreign powers to rig voting machines to steal the election from Trump. In January and February 2021, Dominion warned Lindell that they planned to sue him, stating in their letter: "You have positioned yourself as a prominent leader of the ongoing misinformation campaign." (The two companies sent similar letters to others as well.)[68][10]

On January 25, 2021, Twitter permanently banned Lindell for perpetuating the unfounded claim that Trump won the 2020 election. A Twitter spokesperson explained that Lindell violated the company's civic integrity policy implemented in September 2020 to fight disinformation.[69][70][71] After his personal account was banned, Lindell circumvented the ban by using the corporate My Pillow Twitter account to issue several tweets, including a call for Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to "be found out and should be put in prison when all is revealed!" Following the tweets, Twitter permanently banned the My Pillow account for violating the platform's ban evasion policy.[72]

After Newsmax had broadcast a "clarification" of its false reporting on voting machine fraud in response to a demand letter from Dominion, followed by a defamation suit from a company executive,[73][74] Lindell appeared on the network on February 2, 2021, to repeat the false claims, as network anchor Bob Sellers tried to stop Lindell before reading a disclaimer and walking off the set.[75]

Lindell purchased three hours of airtime on One America News Network, which had also been threatened with legal action, to broadcast Absolute Proof, a documentary that makes false claims about the election, on February 5, 2021. OANN broadcast a lengthy disclaimer before the program saying the claims were Lindell's alone, but that the 2020 election results "remain disputed and questioned by millions of Americans".[10][76] YouTube removed the documentary that day for violating its policy against election disinformation.[77] At the 41st Golden Raspberry Awards, which gives awards to the films judged the worst, Absolute Proof won the Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Picture and Worst Actor for Lindell.[78][79] On April 20, 2021, Lindell published a second documentary titled Absolute Interference, which also promoted debunked conspiracy theories about the election, and criticized the news media and communism.[23][80]

Dominion sent cease-and-desist letters to Lindell in December 2020 and January 2021 and asked him to retract his false claims about the company.[81][82] After Lindell refused (saying "sue me"),[81][82] Dominion filed suit for defamation on February 22, 2021, naming both Lindell and My Pillow as defendants and seeking US$1.3 billion in damages. In its complaint, Dominion alleges that Lindell and My Pillow used "defamatory marketing campaign—with promo codes like 'FightforTrump,' '45,' 'Proof,' and 'QAnon'—[which have] increased My Pillow sales by 30–40% and [continued] duping people into redirecting their election-lie outrage into pillow purchases"; Dominion further stated its intent was to "stop Lindell and My Pillow from further profiting at Dominion’s expense".[83][84] In March 2021 Lindell said on Steve Bannon's War Room: Pandemic podcast he would counter-sue Dominion in cases for himself and My Pillow, accusing Dominion of racketeering and election interference.[85][86] Lindell also claimed that he hired a team of investigators to look into Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and others and claimed that they were "going to jail," on unspecified charges.[87][88]

On April 19, 2021, Lindell announced that My Pillow had filed a $1.6 billion lawsuit against Dominion, arguing that Dominion had defamed the company. Stephen Shackelford, legal counsel for Dominion, stated that My Pillow's lawsuit was "a meritless retaliatory lawsuit, filed by My Pillow to try to distract from the harm it caused to Dominion".[89][90]

Lindell's political activity was satirized on Saturday Night Live in late January 2021[91] and by Jimmy Kimmel on April 20, 2021.[92]

Lindell filed a civil suit against Dominion and Smartmatic in June 2021. The day after the suit was filed, a law partner with Barnes & Thornburg who drafted and submitted the suit left the firm, which said he did not have "firm authorization" to participate in the suit.[93][94]

Personal life

Lindell has been married twice. His first marriage ended in divorce after about 20 years, and he has children from this marriage.[95] He married Dallas Yocum in June 2013 and filed for divorce in mid-July 2013 after she left him. Lindell stated that they had a prenuptial agreement.[96][97]

Lindell is an evangelical Christian[9] and received an honorary Doctor of Business from Liberty University in 2019, for his expertise as an entrepreneur. [98] He self-published a book, What Are the Odds? From Crack Addict to CEO, that year about his addiction recovery and his developing relationship with God.[54]

In January 2021, the Daily Mail alleged that Lindell had a nine-month relationship with actress Jane Krakowski between late 2019 and the summer of 2020. Both Lindell and Krakowski denied the allegation. Lindell retained attorney Charles Harder and sued the Daily Mail for libel on January 25.[99][100][101][102][103]

In March 2021, Lindell said on The Domenick Nati Show that he had not returned to his home in Minnesota for two months, no longer attended in-person events, and was living in a different state due to safety concerns.[87]

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External links