Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.
InfoWars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has filed for bankruptcy in a Texas court after being ordered by multiple courts to pay almost $1.5 billion in total damages to the families of Sandy Hook shooting victims.
The Texas-based media personality with an influential reach spent years falsely calling the 2012 school shooting that killed 20 elementary school students and six adults in Connecticut a hoax. His websites and social media received about 1.4 million daily average visits before major platforms like YouTube and Facebook removed his content in August 2018, according to the New York Times. His false claims about the shooting prompted many of his listeners to harass the families of shooting victims.
Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the Southern District of Texas on Friday, Jones listed his assets to be between $1 million and $10 million. His debts, which he said to be mostly business-related, are estimated to be between $1 billion and $10 billion and they are listed as owed to between 50 and 99 creditors.
The filing comes just over a week after a Texas judge in Austin ordered Jones to pay the full $49 million that a jury awarded to the parents of a 6-year-old child killed in the tragedy. This figure also includes around $45 million in punitive damages, despite Texas having a law that could have limited the maximum award to $750,000. Jones’ lawyer publicly stated that he is planning to appeal the verdict.
Prior to the Texas judge’s ruling, a Connecticut jury in October also awarded several other victims’ families $965 million in damages — the largest penalty against the conspiracy theorist. Then in early November, a Connecticut judge added $473 million in punitive damages.
Jones’ main company, Free Speech Systems, filed for bankruptcy in July, during the Sandy Hooks damages trial in Texas. Three of his other companies — InfoWars, Prison Planet TV and IW Health — filed for bankruptcy in April, before Jones told his audience that his finances were “totally maxed out.” However, during a Texas court hearing in August, attorneys for Sandy Hook parents said evidence from the contents of Jones’ phone indicated his revenue has remained healthy, including bringing in over $800,000 daily during the the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Jones did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent to InfoWars by The Texas Tribune.
Besides the Sandy Hook defamation trials and damages verdict, Jones had also been dogged over the past few years by the response to his central role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, including being subpoenaed and questioned by the U.S. House committee investigating the insurrection.
Disclosure: Facebook and New York Times have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.