Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.
A judge on Thursday ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay $473 million in punitive damages to the families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Jones, host of the right-wing podcast Infowars, spread lies about the massacre for years.
To clarify, the $473 million is in addition to the $965 million in compensatory damages a jury awarded the families in October. And this case is separate from another case that made its way through a Texas court over the summer, in which a jury awarded more than $45 million to the parents of a Sandy Hook victim.
And Jones is awaiting word on another trial in Texas, also stemming from his Sandy Hook lies, that could start as early as this year.
“More money, more problems,” as the saying goes.
There’s no sign Jones has anywhere near the amount necessary to pay these damages in full, which could ultimately lead him to bankruptcy and a lifetime relationship with eager debt-collectors.
A forensic economist who testified in the Texas defamation case over the summer estimated the net worth of Jones’ empire, which includes his Infowars content mill and an array of dubious “health” products, could be as high as $270 million.
Jones has repeatedly claimed he and his companies don’t have the money to pay all the plaintiffs in these lawsuits, but he's proved time and time again that he can't be taken at his word.
During the trial in Texas, it was revealed Jones' lawyer accidentally sent Jones' phone records to the opposing counsel, revealing the conspiracy theorist had turned a hefty profit on his snake oil products even after being deplatformed from major social media outlets. Jones had previously claimed his revenue nosedived after being kicked off the platforms.
We even got to see Jones confronted with this news in real time.
“This is your Perry Mason moment,” he told the plaintiffs’ attorney.
Jones can and likely will appeal these court rulings, but even having to pay a fraction of the nearly $1.5 billion he’s been ordered to pay so far would likely be a huge, indefinite thorn in his side.