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As the jury’s numbers were announced— $120 million for the father of six-year-old Emilie Parker, $109 million for the parents of six-year-old Ben Wheeler — Alex Jones was already live on Infowars. This was an emergency broadcast to save the company, he said, and he would stay on until midnight.  

The numbers kept coming. In the end, the Connecticut jury decided that Jones must pay a staggering $965 million for pushing the false claims that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, where 20 first-graders and six adults were killed in 2012, had been staged and the grieving parents were crisis actors.

Jones’ empire looked to be in ruins.

And there’s more to come. This was the second of three trials to determine how much Jones must pay after he was found liable for defamation, by default, for pushing the false claims about Sandy Hook. In August, a Texas jury found he should pay $49 million. A third trial, also in Texas, where Jones lives, is expected to begin later this year. 

A couple is seen walking amid an array of firefighters and others.

Robbie and Alyssa Parker, whose daughter Emilie was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, are seen shortly after the 2012 shooting. Robbie Parker was later falsely called a crisis actor, and the Parkers are among those who sued Alex Jones for defamation.

Howard Simmons/NY Daily News via Getty Images



While the judgment could cripple his business, Jones went straight to the same playbook that’s allowed him to stay in the national conversation for more than two decades: Make outrageous claims, galvanize his loyal audience around a collective sense of martyrdom, and then cash in on their support.

‘He gets so riled up’

On his way to becoming America’s most notorious conspiracy theorist, Jones has faced plenty of setbacks that would derail most broadcasters. But Jones isn’t a normal broadcaster. His critics are part of the very mainstream that Infowars was set up to discredit, and he has spent two decades turning career-ending setbacks into profit windfalls. 

Jones got his start by flipping a table on set. 

As a community college student in Austin, he appeared on a public-access cable station. One night, during his late-night slot, Jones was going on a wild rant, and let loose a table. The segment caught the eye of Brian Billeck, the operations director for Austin talk radio station KJFK, who was looking to hire. 

“The phone went flying and the table went flying and he’s screaming at the camera and everything,” Billeck recalls. “And I was like, that’s beautiful.” 

Billeck brought Jones on to host a late-night show. And as Jones’ audience grew, he was moved earlier and earlier on the lineup.

“The one thing you cannot deny about Alex is his passion,” Billeck said. “If you watch him or listen to him, you will believe that he is adamant about whatever he is talking about… He just gets so riled up.”

KJFK became an arena for Jones to explore conspiracies. Jones pushed the baseless claims that the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people was a government “false-flag” operation, and that the 76 Branch Davidians who died at the FBI’s 1993 siege of their Waco, Texas, compound had been killed by government agents, instead of purposely setting fire to the ranch. 

Eventually, it got to be too much — not the content itself, but Jones’ fixation on a single story, Billeck said. 

Alex Jones

Alex Jones confronts Hispanic protesters in Austin, Texas on September 18, 2005 at the Texas Capitol who were protesting Minutemen plans to patrol the Texas border for illegal aliens.


Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images



“The world had kind of moved on in a way, and Alex was still clamoring on about the Branch Davidians … literally spending his entire show talking about that,” Billeck said. “Eventually it just got to a point where Alex was just not listening to us anymore, doing what he wanted to do.”

Selling ads became difficult, he said.

Jones would later tell the Austin Chronicle that his firing had been “purely political,” a move by the higher-ups to get him to stop talking about Waco and other political topics.

Either way, from then on, Jones would be his own boss. This meant he had to not only plan his broadcasts — but learn how to make them profitable. 

Going independent 

Jones turned the setback into an opportunity.

After his firing, Jones set up a home-broadcasting operation where he could record shows for stations around the country. His new platform — Infowars — allowed him to bypass editors and broadcasters who might compel him to moderate his output.

It didn’t take long for him to get traction. In 2000, Jones released a two-hour film called “Dark Secrets Inside Bohemian Grove.

Jones and an undercover cameraman had gained access to Bohemian Grove, a secretive, invitation-only gathering and in northern California. The event, held every year in July, attracted “some of the richest and most powerful men in the world” for “two weeks of heavy drinking, super-secret talks, druid worship,” and other rituals, as the Washington Post would later report

Jones’  film included footage from the Cremation of the Care ceremony and participants in costume burning a coffin effigy. It caused a stir. 

“That was kind of his big break that put him on the map,” said Jared Holt, a senior research manager at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a think tank that studies extremism. The film marked an important transition for Jones from and Austin-based “Libertarian shock jock” to a conspiracy theorist with a national audience, Holt said. 

The next summer, Jones went on Infowars with a warning about coming “false flag” attacks. Just as the 1933 fire at Germany’s parliament, the Reichstag, became a pretext to crush dissent and usher in Adolf Hitler’s Nazi dictatorship — Jones lectured his audience —  the U.S. government would also use terrorist attacks to justify intrusions into Americans’ liberty. 

Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader who three years earlier had orchestrated attacks at two U.S. embassies in East Africa, would be blamed, Jones said. 

Six weeks later — Sept 11, 2001 — Jones went on air to crow about his “I told you so moment” and to make the baseless claim that the attack had been a “false flag.” As he told his listeners that morning: “Ninety-eight percent chance, this was a government-orchestrated, controlled bombing.”

Jones’ words attracted fierce backlash. He would later tell Rolling Stone that he lost 70% of his affiliates on 9/11 alone.

But Jones didn’t relent. He doubled down, building more elaborate conspiracy theories and bolstering his reputation in the so-called 9/11 “truther” movement. A decade after 9/11, according to Jones, Infowars.com had an audience of more than 32 million users. 

Gold and supplements 

Running Infowars gave Alex Jones the freedom to say whatever he wanted. And hawking his own products, or working directly with entrepreneurs who were also his allies, allowed him to bypass traditional advertisers.

From the earliest days of Infowars, Jones partnered with the talk show syndication company Genesis Communications Network. Genesis was owned by Ted Anderson, a precious metals seller, who used the company largely to push advertisements for his bullion business, Midas Resources. 

Jones saw how pushing fears could lead directly to sales, and old recordings of Jones’ shows demonstrate just how symbiotic his relationship with Anderson could be. Jones would talk about how he believed the globalists were planning to tank the world’s economy, and then Anderson would come on to offer a special rate to buy gold.

“There is one thing that they can’t get their greedy hands on and that’s gold and silver and precious metals,” Jones said during a broadcast in 2009. “They can put property taxes on your land and take it. They can do anything. They can’t get your gold and silver unless they physically stick you up for it.”

The State of Minnesota eventually shut Midas Resources in 2017, in part for misappropriating money. And Jones’ business relationship with Genesis is now minimal, as he has shifted focus from radio to online. 

But advertisements remain a huge part of the Infowars experience, and these days many of the products Jones is selling are his own. And he continues to be the perfect pitchman. 

In 2013, Jones made the leap to selling dietary supplements, turning Infowars, as New York Magazine would write, into a “snake-oil empire.” A few years later, when BuzzFeed News sent six of Infowars’ most popular supplements to a lab for testing in 2017, they found that they were “reasonably safe,” but largely less effective than cheaper counterparts on the market.

The Infowars online store also sells a large selection of disaster preparedness products like storable food packs and radios. 

Jones approached his job like a televangelist, according to Mark Fenster, a conspiracy theory expert at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law.

“They too sell merchandise that’s related to the impending apocalypse and it is therefore a longstanding tradition in the US of finding ways of taking advantage of — whether you believe it or not — the coming end,” Fenster said. 

Ads not only play during the breaks, but Jones often pitches products during the broadcasts itself, making it almost impossible to determine how much of an episode is devoted to selling products. 

“He spends like half of his time on air doing poorly-disguised ads. Trying to put a number on it or statistical analysis would require defining what actually constitutes an ad,” Dan Friesen, who hosts a podcast about Infowars, said. “You could argue that 100% of the show is ads.”

Since Infowars remains a privately held company it’s somewhat opaque how much money Jones makes from shilling supplements. While Infowars recently filed for bankruptcy and Jones himself has claimed he’s practically broke, an expert who testified at the Sandy Hook trial in Texas painted a picture of enormous wealth, with likely even more hidden away in shell companies. 

Bernard Pettingill Jr., a forensic economist called by the plaintiffs, estimated that Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems, have a combined worth somewhere between $135 million and $270 million. At one point in 2018, Jones’ company was raking in more than $800,000 in sales a day, according to evidence presented at the first Sandy Hook trial.

“Alex talks about the goal of Infowars of being kind of a revolutionary one. And I think that has really caught up some of his followers,” Holt said. “It’s produced a very reliable base of true believers for him that will continue buying the water filters and supplements and whatnot, no matter if they have to go to a weird platform to watch Alex.” 

The very bad year 

Fifteen years after first reaching a national audience, the first signs of real trouble came after the 2016 presidential election. In response to the disinformation that flooded social-media platforms, companies that hosted Jones’ videos began clamping down on his content. Jones began receiving more frequent warnings that his content had been removed or restricted for violating the rules.

According to Robert Jacobson, a former Infowars staffer, Jones seemed genuinely worried.

On days that YouTube would take something down, Jacobson described the mood around the office as “shut the lights off, everybody. Nobody talks in the office, you know, turn on red lights all over the place. Alex is mad.”

Then came 2018. 

In March of 2018, a report by CNN found that advertisements for major companies were running on Jones’ YouTube videos, without the advertisers’ advance knowledge. Companies like Nike, 20th Century Fox, Acer, Expedia, and others quickly pulled their ads from the Jones videos.

At the end of July, Jones set off an even stricter crackdown by multiple major social media platforms when he made a threatening statement about Russia investigation special counsel Robert Mueller on his show. 

Within days, Spotify, Facebook, Apple, YouTube, and Pinterest had banned Jones from their platforms. Facebook said in a statement at the time that Jones violated policies against “glorifying violence” and “using dehumanizing language” against minorities. 

Sandy Hook memorial

Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, heart and cross memorial near Sandy Hook Firehouse on Riverside Road in Sandy Hook, CT

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images



In the meantime, between April and October of 2018, Jones faced multiple defamation lawsuits over his Sandy Hook claims from parents who were subjected to threats and harassment by his fans. 

But, as always, Jones’ response to alleged persecution — concocted or real — was to hold steady and find ways to profit from the backlash. The social media ban might have been career ending for many, but it was “the best thing that can ever happen” to Jones, Friesen said. 

“He has this notion that whenever he’s being attacked, that means he’s on the right track,” Friesen said. “And so when companies deplatformed him, it was able to be spun within his already existing audience as evidence that Alex is more right than even we thought.”

According to the financial expert who testified in the Texas Sandy Hook trial, Jones brought in more money after being deplatformed. Pettingill, the expert called by the plaintiffs, estimated that Jones’ companies made $64.9 million in 2021, up from an average of $53.2 million between September 2018 and December 2018. Jones’ attorneys disputed the analysis.

As Jones sees it, even if deplatforming slimmed down his daily reach, his show now is “more underground and more avant-garde, more black sheep, more rebel and more outlaw, and made it more successful in a way,” as he told Channel 5 after the Sandy Hook trial in Texas.

‘Crushing globalists’

Watching “The Alex Jones Show” can be baffling for those uninitiated in the world of conspiracy theories. 

The show isn’t so much a news broadcast as a four-hour-long improv show, minus the comedic relief. For his prompts, Jones flips between printouts of news stories, and then launches into rants about how you, the loyal viewer, are being played. 

Speaking directly to the camera and talking a mile a minute, the shows are punctuated with references to “the globalists,” and figures like Klaus Schwab, executive director the World Economic Forum and liberal philanthropist George Soros. Then, cut to an ad touting Survival Shield X-3 iodine drops. 

Jones has said that fluoridated drinking water is making people dumber and the government has developed technology to control the weather. According to him, Bill Gates is leading a eugenics plot to sterilize and kill many in the developing world under the guise of vaccinations from his foundation. 

Alex Jones Roger Stone

Longtime informal adviser to Donald Trump, Roger Stone (right), and and Alex Jones (left) speak to reporters in December 2018.


Alex Wong/Getty Images



He leveraged the COVID-19 pandemic into a financial bonanza, The New Yorker reported in 2020, finding a vast new audience for his claims that vaccines and COVID-related restrictions were part of a plot to take away people’s freedom. When the COVID-19 vaccines became available, Jones called them poison shots designed to “erase our immune systems” and “cause cancer and heart attacks.”  

These conspiracy theories might sound like different stories, but in Jones’ world it’s really one single theory — that there’s a shadowy group of “globalists” working in the upper echelons of society to create a totalitarian regime. 

In December 2015, Jones’ profile grew when he hosted then-presidential candidate Donald Trump on his show. A new fear began to emerge in the media: Was Jones influencing Republican politics?

“Thanks to Trump, fringe news enters the mainstream,” one Washington Post headline read after the interview. “Alex Jones’s Bigoted Buffoonery Goes Viral in the Time of Trump,” wrote Tablet. Outlets began profiling Jones. Salon warned of Jones’ “dangerous rise.” Esquire called him a “nexus of patriotism and fear.”

In 2019, the show “This American Life” devoted an entire episode to debunking Jones’ origin story — that crooked cops had forced him from his high school after he accused police at an assembly of selling drugs to students. Ten people who were at the school at the time told the show that they never remembered Jones speaking up. And in fact, one friend said the Joneses left town a couple weeks after Alex was beaten up at a party.

Jones has twisted this criticism to bolster his case that he’s a patriotic whistleblower who’s under attack for speaking truth to power. The globalists, he says, are trying to suppress his voice. 

Tripling down

For most public figures, having to confront the Sandy Hook families in court for essentially siccing his followers on them would be an embarrassing PR nightmare, to say the least.  

Alex Jones testifies during his defamation trial in Texas on August 2, 2022.

Alex Jones testifies during his defamation trial in Texas on August 2, 2022.

Briana Sanchez/Pool via REUTERS



For Jones, the trials have been yet another opportunity to tell his audience that the powerful are out to get him and to call his army of fans to action.

Graphics mocking the two judges have appeared on the Infowars website, while on his show Jones has offered grist for the opposing lawyers to grill him about on the witness stand.  

Toward the end of his testimony in Connecticut, as Chris Mattei, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said Jones had put “a target” on the backs of the grieving families, Jones snapped.

“Is this a struggle session? Are we in China? I’ve already said I’m sorry hundreds of times and I’m done saying I’m sorry,” Jones said. 

While Jones’ outburst might appear, on the surface, to go against his best interests — inflaming the jury, needlessly — it spoke to Jones’ broader approach of speaking directly to his fanbase, and to encourage their support. 

The words “THE MOST CENSORED NEWS BROADCAST IN THE WORLD” now appear over his online broadcasts, as Jones tells his audience things like, “We’re in a tow-to-tow battle with the globalists,” and “When you stand up like I’ve done… they come after you.” 

Alex jones' Twitter account

Picture showing a computer screen displaying the Twitter account of Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones taken on August 15, 2018 in Washington DC.

ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images



While the trial was broadcast live on YouTube, Infowars ran clips and encouraged his audience to help out. 

He recently started running a “mega massive sale” on his supplements and urged his fans to stock up and support him at the same time. He also set up a new website, “SaveInfowars.com,” which directs to a legal defense fund. “We’re going to make it through these times with God’s help, but I can’t imagine a world where Infowars is not on air,” Jones said on one show in late September.

In fact, while being questioned about cryptocurrency donations on the stand, Jones plugged his crypto page and Mattei accused him of turning his testimony into one big ad. 

“That will end up as a clip on your show tonight, your advertisement for your cryptocurrency page,” Mattei said. Jones did just that. Recent episodes of Infowars have been featuring an ad for the show with that very moment in court, with the added graphic of “Infowars.com/crypto.”

Addressing his audience on Wednesday, Jones was by turns glum and defiant. He vowed to appeal, but he also said he was running out of money to pay his legal bills. 

For at least the time being, Jones seems determined to keep the fight going. 

“Alex Jones is likely to continue being Alex Jones, which means he’s likely to try all kinds of shenanigans to avoid accountability,” said Holt. “The money awarded in damages does not repair what Alex Jones has done to those parents’ lives, but it could be a step towards dismantling the toxic empire that Alex Jones has built around his brand.” 

Mark Fenster, the author of “Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture,” said it’s hard to imagine a post-Infowars life for Jones. 

“I mean what’s he gonna do — go play golf? This is his life,” Fenster said. “This is a passion for him.” 



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