MyPillow founder and prominent election denier Mike Lindell made a bold offer ahead of a “cyber symposium” he held in August 2021 in South Dakota: He claimed he had data showing Chinese interference and said he would pay $5 million to anyone who could prove the material was not from the previous year’s U.S. election.
He called the challenge “Prove Mike Wrong.”
On Wednesday, a private arbitration panel ruled that someone did.
The panel said Robert Zeidman, a computer forensics expert and 63-year-old Trump voter from Nevada, was entitled to the $5 million payout.
Zeidman had examined Lindell’s data and concluded that not only did it not prove voter fraud, it also had no connection to the 2020 election. He was the only expert who submitted a claim, arbitration records show.
He turned to the arbitrators after Lindell Management, which created the contest, refused to pay him.
In their 23-page decision, the arbitrators said Zeidman proved that Lindell’s material “unequivocally did not reflect November 2020 election data.” They directed Lindell’s firm to pay Zeidman within 30 days.
In a statement to The Washington Post, Zeidman said he was “really happy” with the arbitrators’ decision. “They clearly saw this as I did — that the data we were given at the symposium was not at all what Mr. Lindell said it was,” he said. “The truth is finally out there.”
Zeidman’s attorney, Brian Glasser, said the panel’s decision stands as a warning to others who have made wild allegations about election fraud. “I think the arbitrators thought it important that these claims be vetted, because they’ve done great harm to our country,” he said.
Lindell said in a text to The Post: “They made a terribly wrong decision! This will be going to court!” His attorneys did not reply to a request seeking comment.
A copy of contest rules submitted in the arbitration said disputes would be “resolved exclusively by final and binding arbitration” and noted that arbitration “is subject to very limited review by courts.”
Glasser said the panel’s decision cannot be directly appealed but that Lindell could ask a federal court to quash it on the basis that it represented a “manifest injustice.” The statutory grounds for such a claim are narrow, and it is “extremely rare” for such a claim to succeed, according to Glasser.
Lindell also faces a $1.3 billion defamation suit from Dominion Voting Systems and a defamation lawsuit from one of Dominion’s former executives.
In the months after Trump’s 2020 election loss, Lindell spent millions of dollars to finance lawsuits, support right-wing activists nationwide and launch a streaming television station dedicated to amplifying election-fraud falsehoods.
During frequent media appearances, he had advertised his three-day symposium as the event where he would finally provide data proving his claims. And he issued his high-stakes challenge.
“There’s a $5 million prize for anybody that can prove the election data that I have from the 2020 election was false, is not from the 2020 election,” Lindell said on the conservative show “The Glazov Gang,” which streams online.
The data he planned to reveal, he said, were “packet captures” that would demonstrate Chinese government interference. Packet captures, or “pcaps,” are a specific file format that is an industry standard for archiving internet traffic.
“They were captured in real time and preserved. They cannot be altered. … They’re 100 percent evidence,” Lindell said on the show. “So it will show an intrusion. This was an attack from China.”
The symposium, he later told arbitrators, was meant to “do three things: to make the media show up, cyber guys show up, and politicians to open their eyes and say, ‘Hey, we got to check into this.’”
Lindell’s claims that he had packet captures intrigued Zeidman, who has served as an expert for tech firms in intellectual property lawsuits. Describing himself as a “reasonable” and “moderate conservative” who voted twice for Donald Trump, Zeidman told the arbitration panel he was skeptical of Lindell’s claims. But he said he also did not believe Lindell would promote unvetted data, so he thought the conference could offer a “great chance to see history in the making, perhaps an election overturned.”
At the event, Zeidman received the contest rules. There was no mention of disproving Chinese interference, according to contest forms submitted in the arbitration case. Rather, winners would have to prove that the data provided “does NOT reflect information related to the November 2020 election.”
At the symposium, participants interested in the contest were given a badge with a hot-pink dot to indicate they were cyber experts and could enter a room where Lindell’s data was shared.
The files provided to Zeidman and other experts were primarily text or PDF files. Zeidman testified that one was a flow chart purporting to show how elections generally work. Another, when unencrypted, was a list of internet IP addresses, and others were enormous files of what appeared to Zeidman to be random numbers and letters.
The packet captures that Lindell had promised were nowhere to be found, according to Zeidman.
Zeidman laid out his findings in a 15-page report. “I have proven that the data Lindell provides … unequivocally does not contain packet data of any kind and do not contain any information related to the November 2020 election,” he wrote.
Six weeks after the symposium, Zeidman sent a letter to Lindell Management to claim the prize. He got back a denial, and the following month he filed for arbitration, a type of proceeding that allows parties to resolve disputes outside the court system.
The private arbitration proceedings in Lindell’s home state of Minnesota included written briefs, depositions and a three-day hearing in January with sworn testimony from Zeidman, Lindell, subject-matter experts and witnesses. The Post obtained records from the proceeding.
Asked why he had decided to go to the trouble of seeking a hearing, Zeidman testified that he wanted the money and wanted to push back against stolen-election claims. “Mr. Lindell has a lot of followers,” Zeidman said. “He’s making a lot of statements to people that I know, people that are good friends of mine, people that are influential. And they are claiming that he has the data that shows that this election was stolen.”
Zeidman’s lawyers wrote to the panel that the data presented at the symposium contained “no recognizable data in any known data format.”
Lindell testified at arbitration that he did not share what he had described as his key data to support the foreign intrusion claim during the conference. He held off, he said, after a man seeking a selfie poked him in the side as the symposium was nearing an end — an act that Lindell called an assault and said he took as a signal the government might tamper with his central information if he made it public.
Lindell told the panel that, after the incident, his “red team” advisers warned him against making that information public. “They said it could be a poison pill put in the data and we really shouldn’t release the China stuff,” he said.
The arbitrators did not address the substance of Lindell’s claims about vote tampering, noting that they were “not asked to decide whether China interfered in the 2020 election.”