Like his preferred political candidate, specialty pillow mogul Michael Lindell loved larger-than-life business claims.
Lindell, an ardent Donald Trump supporter, is the inventor of MyPillow, a foam pillow purported to treat a range of medical issues, from sleep apnea to fibromyalgia. The pillow, which has aggressively promoted Trump on its official Twitter account, has more in common with the politician than meets the eye. In the latest of an onslaught of lawsuits, MyPillow agreed to a $1 million settlement this week, after the company was accused of promising over-the-top health benefits it couldn’t possibly hope to deliver.
“Migraines,” “Allergies & Asthma,” “Restless Leg Syndrome,” read subheadings on MyPillow’s now-deleted “benefits” page. The pillow brand purported to treat these ailments and more, even if the website’s fine print only explained that “sleep often terminates migraine headaches” or that MyPillow did not contain “mold or feathers—which are major triggers for allergies and asthma.”
The language quietly disappeared from the website after consumer affairs group Truth In Advertising published a January 2016 investigation into the company. The TINA investigation, which accused MyPillow of making unsubstantiated health claims, became the basis of an October lawsuit by nine California counties. This week, MyPillow agreed to shell out nearly $1 million in civil penalties and another $100,000 to California-based domestic violence charities.
“MyPillow is pleased to have reached an agreement with Alameda County,” Lindell said in a statement shared with The Daily Beast. “Our focus is, and always has been, on sharing MyPillow with as many people as possible. With this settlement, we are able to avoid a costly and drawn out court case and turn our attention back to our number one passion, our customers.”
But as of late, MyPillow’s number two passion appears to be Donald Trump.
On Oct. 27, the pillow company retweeted the user “Deplorable Sadie,” who had tagged Trump and the MyPillow account in a tweet about an upcoming Trump rally, where Lindell was headlining.
“MEDIA WON’T SHOW THIS, MAKE IT VIRAL” reads another MyPillow retweet, which features a pro-Trump video.
MyPillow is not in bed with Trump, a spokesperson told The Daily Beast. The views espoused on the pillow’s social media are “Mr. Lindell’s personal opinion,” spokesperson Michelle Lawless said.
And Lindell has made his political opinions known.
The pillow entrepreneur has had a growing presence on political radio shows, appearing at the Republican National Convention in July, promising Trump a free pillow in September, and the final presidential debate in October. Partisan pillow fans rushed to tweet screenshots of Lindell in the background of crowd footage. In one image, Lindell looms behind Donald Trump Jr.’s shoulder during a FOX News interview, his pixelated profile grinning at the camera like a blurry figure in an amateur Bigfoot sighting video. MyPillow retweeted the picture.
MyPillow’s love affair with conservative heavyweights runs both ways. In an August FOX News segment, host Megyn Kelly and her guests spent a minute praising Lindell and MyPillow.
“They pay for ad space, but they didn’t even pay for this,” Kelly said.
MyPillow is famous for its aggressive infomercial campaigns, which cost approximately $1 million each week, the company told Minnesota’s Star Tribune. The costs dwarf the company’s legal woes. But MyPillow’s growing pile of lawsuits is bad for business, as Trump knows too well.
In 2013, two early MyPillow investors sued Lindell, saying they rightfully owned 42 percent of his company. Later that year, Salesforce sought $550,000 in damages from MyPillow, after MyPillow reportedly hung them out to dry on a $125,000 credit card bill. In August 2016, the company settled with New York state for $1.1 million over tax evasion charges. Two months later, the company agreed to a class action settlement, after it was ruled that Lindell could not advertise himself as a “sleep expert” without formal training. MyPillow is also facing a class action suit from buyers who say they were duped into a “two for one pillow sale,” during which the pillows—usually $49.99—were sold at “half price” for $99.97.
During a radio interview at the Republican National Convention, Lindell said he supported Trump, because he thought Trump could run the country like “an entrepreneur.”
“With MyPillow… we’ve gotten through it because it’s such an amazing product and I treat my employees so well we’re like a family,” Lindell said of the Obama presidency. “But you know that it’s still hard, it’s really hard.”