The popular pillow inventor recently discussed his past crack cocaine addiction and the role that religion played in helping him get sober.
The term “pillow salesman” doesn’t exactly conjure thoughts of drug addiction, controversial business decisions or ties to the Trump administration, but entrepreneur Mike Lindell’s rags-to-riches story is unusual by any measure.
According to The Washington Post, the Minnesota-based CEO of MyPillow transformed himself from a person with a crack cocaine addiction to a multimillionaire, finding success and recovery after bottoming out just a decade ago.
MyPillow (which came to Lindell in a dream) boasts international sales of 30 million units, and is a staple of home-shopping channels, not to mention countless radio and TV infomercials that feature Lindell himself. However, Lindell is currently experiencing a public backlash after refusing to pull advertising from Fox News.
When The Ingraham Angle host Laura Ingraham tweeted that David Hogg, a Parkland massacre survivor, had been rejected from college, public outcry was swift and fierce.
Nearly 20 advertisers immediately pulled their advertising and called for a boycott of Ingraham’s show. Lindell refused to follow suit, though, tweeting, “I did not take my advertising down from @IngrahamAngle and @FoxNews, nor do I intend to.”
He also told the Shakopee Valley News that “advertising decisions are based on what’s best for MyPillow, my employees and my customers.”
As a result, many critics derided Lindell’s decision and called for a boycott of MyPillow. Lindell, however, took it all in stride, suggesting that his support for Trump may have fueled the controversy.
But long before his invitation to Trump’s 2017 Inauguration and this year’s Easter dinner at Mar-a-Lago, Lindell had bottomed out in a big way.
Lindell had begun using cocaine in the ’80s and transitioned to crack cocaine in the ’90s. During these years, Lindell dabbled in a little of everything in an attempt to make money—carpet cleaning, lunch wagons and even counting cards. But it wouldn’t be until years later that he would hit bottom and change his fortune.
In 2008, Lindell had so much crack cocaine in his system that he’d been awake for two weeks straight, according to the Post. None of his dealers wanted his business anymore. They just wanted the man to get some sleep.
“They were three of the biggest dealers in the [Twin Cities],” Lindell said. “They refused to sell to me again. One of them tried babysitting me until I fell asleep.”
At this point, he’d not only lost his house but his marriage had fallen apart, too.
Soon after, Lindell claims he asked God for help to end his addiction. “I had one prayer that night: ‘God, I want to wake up in the morning and never have the desire again,’” he told CNBC. “I woke up the next day—and you’ve got to realize this is years of crack addiction—I go, ‘Wow, something’s different.’”
His desire to get high, Lindell said, was completely gone.
With his newfound sobriety, Lindell refocused his attention on MyPillow (the fledgling business he had started four years prior) and began releasing 30-minute TV infomercials. The commercials were “key” to his company’s success, he said. “I want to come across as an average guy, talking to his neighbor,” Lindell commented, watching as business soared after the first of his spots aired in 2011. “By the end of the year, we went from five employees to 500,” Lindell said.
According to the Post, MyPillow now brings in about $300 million annually.
Lindell also takes considerable pride in his relationship with Trump, considering it a milestone in his continued success: “The President shook my hand and told me, ‘You are doing a great job, Michael,’” he said. “He also said he is sleeping great on his MyPillow.”
Despite the current backlash Lindell is enduring, there’s no denying that the man has come back from far worse.