Mike Lindell, the My Pillow guy
Politics can make strange bedfellows, and Mike Lindell, the guy who founded MyPillow, is getting a taste of that this week.
Lindell is the target of an online pillow fight after refusing to join other advertisers who pulled support for Fox News talker Laura Ingraham because she mocked Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg. She later apologized.
Lindell, recently dubbed President Donald Trump's "BFF" by the New York Daily News, tweeted his support for Ingraham on Monday after spending time over the Easter weekend at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.
"Advertising decisions are based on what's best for MyPillow, my employees and my customers," Lindell said in a statement to the Shakopee Valley News in Minnesota.
MyPillow is based in Lindell's hometown of Chaska, Minn., outside Minneapolis.
Lindell's tweet set off a call to boycott both MyPillow and QVC, the home shopping network that sells thousands of the pillows. Some of his customers seemed surprised to learn of his conservative politics, though they are well known in Minnesota.
But Lindell is standing firm, earning praise from Ingraham, conservative news outlets and fellow Trump followers who pledged to support him by buying his pillows.
Here are eight things to know about this former crack addict turned multimillionaire who has sold, by some estimates, more than 30 million pillows.
1. The ladies loved him at the inauguration. When Lindell attended Trump's inauguration festivities, the alternative newspaper in Minneapolis, City Pages, wrote about it under a headline that read: "Report: MyPillow's Mike Lindell was the hot stud ladies man at Trump inauguration."
Lindell posed that night with another recognizable Trump supporter, Scott Baio.
Page Six reported that "the most unlikely star at Donald Trump's inauguration was MyPillow king Mike Lindell. Mustachioed Lindell is well-known to many because of his ubiquitous ads for his pillows, of which he’s sold nearly 30 million."
"The divorced former crack addict-turned-strictly sober millionaire was swarmed at the Empire State Inaugural Kick-Off. While big names including Newt Gingrich and Jon Voight attended, women flocked to Lindell, a divorced father of four."
2. Melania wanted free pillows. According to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Lindell's relationship with Trump dates back to the summer of 2016, when the two met, at Trump's request, for 30 minutes in New York.
Lindell told the business journal that Trump was fascinated by his business management and how the pillows are made in the U.S.A.
Lindell said Melania Trump asked for a pair of the pillows, and he sent some overnight. "I got a personal email from him saying he and his wife really liked MyPillow," Lindell told the business journal.
The pillow talk then continued.
At a "Made in America" event at the White House last summer — where Lindell put a MyPillow right on the table — Trump praised the pillow prince, noting that Lindell "was a supporter of ours right from the beginning."
Trump told him, "I actually bought a couple of pillows, and they're very good." It's not clear whether Trump was referring to the freebies or whether he really did buy his own pillows.
Lindell later declared "this guy is going to be the most amazing president in history."
3. He spent the holidays with Trump. The president spent the Easter weekend at Mar-a-Lago with several political allies and supporters, including Lindell. He dined with Trump and the group on Saturday, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
He and Trump talked pillows, not Putin, and the food was "awesome," said Lindell, who was there with his girlfriend.
"The President shook my hand and told me, 'You are doing a great job, Michael.' He also said he is sleeping great on his MyPillow," Lindell told the Star-Tribune.
"I told him, 'People come up to me all the time to tell me what a great job you are doing and that you are in their prayers.' It was an honor to be at Mar-a-Lago on Easter weekend."
4.Yes, he used to do drugs. Not many multimillionaires can begin their story with "I was once a crack addict," but Lindell can and often does when talking about his colorful rehab-to-riches background to inspire others.
He told CNBC last year he was addicted when he started MyPillow in 2004. "People say all the time that's one of the biggest miracles ever." He said he's been clean and sober for eight years.
There's been talk of using a photo of his crack-head self on the cover of his autobiography. There might even be a MyPillow movie, with help from his Hollywood buddy and fellow Trump fan Stephen Baldwin, whose brother Alec famously impersonates Trump on "Saturday Night Live."
5. He had a dream. Lindell has said he had trouble sleeping his whole life, once spending $70 of his hard-earned money as a teenage bag boy to buy a fancy pillow.
In 2004, he had a dream that he says came from God, a dream about a pillow that would hold its shape.
"I got up in the middle of the night — it was about 2 in the morning — and I had 'My Pillow' written everywhere in the kitchen and all over the house," he told CNBC.
He and his son spent hours cutting up foam to find just the right configuration; along the way, Lindell taught himself how to sew.
Today MyPillow has close to 1,500 employees and revenue has grown from around $100,000 a year to close to $300 million, according to CNBC.
6. A $1 million legal headache. In 2016, MyPillow was fined $1 million for deceptive advertising practices, charges leveled by prosecutors in nine California counties, according to NBC News.
The lawsuit alleged that when MyPillow claimed it could help with certain medical conditions — insomnia, sleep apnea and the like — the company “knew or reasonably should have known” those statements “were untrue or misleading.”
“We did nothing wrong. We did not make any misleading claims,” Lindell told NBC. “Rather than fight this, I made a business decision to prevent long and costly litigation, pay this and move on.”
The settlement also required MyPillow to stop calling its products the "Official Bed Pillow" of the National Sleep Foundation, because the company did not disclose its financial arrangement with the foundation. Lindell denied buying the NSF’s endorsement.
7. Rated F by the BBB. In January 2017, the Better Business Bureau dropped MyPillow's A-plus rating to an F because of the company's constant 2-for-1 "deals."
“Among other issues, BBB has attempted to persuade MyPillow to discontinue their 'buy one get one free' (BOGO)/other discount offers without success,” Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota, said on the BBB website.
“Continuous BOGO offers, which can then be construed as an item's regular, everyday price, violate not only BBB’s Code of Advertising — which all BBB Accredited Businesses agree to abide by — but also other state and national organizations’ rules.”
In the case of MyPillow, anyone could get the BOGO discount codes, and prospective customers who didn't have a special code could get the deal anyway just by calling, the bureau charged.
Lindell has said he believes the decision was politically motivated because of his support of Trump.