Mike Lindell’s had a busy 2021. The MyPillow guy tried to help Trump overturn the election. He’s been sued in two separate billion-dollar lawsuits. He’s released multiple, very long videos teeming with wacko conspiracy theories. He was even the subject of a bizarre (and quite untrue) romantic rumor involving Jane Krakowski. But did you know he also tried to make a dent in the once-thriving mask market? And that he lost millions of dollars doing it?
Actually, you might remember this, although it was a lifetime ago. Back in March of last year, early into the pandemic, then-president Donald J. Trump held one of his surreal Rose Garden press conferences that used to be a staple of American life. In it, he announced that Lindell would be mass producing masks for charity, to be, for the most part, donated to frontline workers. That never happened.
According to The Daily Beast, Lindell is now sitting with millions of unused masks and around $7 million in personal losses. The businessman told the publication that he “can’t give them away,” and that he wishes he could burn them all.
What happened? It’s hard to get a straight answer from Lindell, who is prone to conspiratorial tangents filled with Dadaist inventions, but the story The Daily Beast was able to piece together involves paints it as a “failed charity effort that Lindell then turned into a failed business venture, which he then turned back into a charity.” He had retrofitted about 75% of machines once used to crank out his fancy pillows into mask-sewing units. But he ran amok of commercial and regulatory roadblocks. The Food and Drug Administration, for instance, said it did not meet their standards.
Lindell also blamed “many bad people in the mask industry.”
Eventually the market flooded with masks, and Lindell was still lagging behind. Soon he was buying masks from other sources and then donating those instead — a move that cost him some $4 million.
Then he tried a different tack. As per the Beast:
He began selling them to the public and promoting the items online and in media appearances. And while Lindell vowed he was not gunning for a profit and only sold masks at or below the $1.50 cost of production, that’s only the most recent discounted rate. The MyPillow website once priced them as much as three times that rate, and in a June 2020 radio interview, Lindell marked them up four dollars a pop.
By the fall, he’d given up. Now he’s surrounded by the fruits of his failures — “un-given-away” face coverings, some of them surgical masks, others disposables, others made of cloth. The kicker? Lindell now doesn’t even believe masks worked at all. But now he’s giving them away. “Anyone can have them now,” he told the Beast. “I don’t care.” So if you need a mask, we know a guy.
(Via The Daily Beast)