Alex Jones: what is his net worth as Infowars host ordered to pay over £800 million in Sandy Hook trial

The InfoWars host has been ordered to pay nearly $1 billion to the families of victims in the Sandy Hook shooting

Conspiracy theorist and alt-right figure Alex Jones has been ordered to pay $965 million dollars (£869 million) to people who suffered from his false claim that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax, a jury in the US decided on Wednesday (12 October).

The decision comes after the Infowars host was ordered to pay nearly $50 million dollars (£45 million) to the parents of Jesse Lewis.

During the trial, Jones admitted to saying that he believes the Sandy Hook school shooting is “100% real”, after years of claiming the attack was a hoax orchestrated by gun control advocates.

Jones and his media company, Free Speech Systems, were taken to trial for defamation by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse Lewis was among the 26 killed in the massacre in the elementary school.

This is everything you need to know.

Who is Alex Jones?

Alex Jones is a far-right American radio show host who is known for perpetuating conspiracy theories on his show InfoWars.

Conspiracy theories that Jones has promoted include stating that the United States Government falsified the events of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the 9/11 attacks and the 1969 Moon landing. A Trump supporter, Jones also supported the false claims of electoral fraud in the 2020 Presidential election.

He was born on 11 February 1974 in Dallas, Texas, and began his broadcasting career working at a call-in TV program in August. In 1996, he moved to radio, hosting a show called The Final Edition on KJFK - he was later fired.

After being fired from KJFK, Jones began airing his own show from his home and later founded InfoWars with his then-wife Kelly Jones in 1999.

Infowars host Alex Jones protests outside the Texas State Capital building on April 18, 2020 in Austin, Texas, to call for the country to be opened up despite the risk of the COVID-19. (Photo by Sergio Flores/Getty Images)

Jones has been banned from a number of websites and social media platforms, including YouTube, Facebook and Spotify, for violating hate-speech policies. In 2018, Vimeo removed all of Jones’ videos due to “hateful content”, and his accounts were also removed from Pinterest, Mailchimp and LinkedIn.

The InfoWars app was removed from the Apple App Store in 2018 for “objectionable content” and he was also banned from using PayPal for business purposes for “hate or discriminatory intolerance against certain communities and religons”.

In 2020, the InfoWars app was also removed from the Google Play store due to Jones using his platform to spread misinformation about the Covid-19 virus and ensuing pandemic.

What happened at Sandy Hook?

In 2012, American elementary school Sandy Hook was the target of a shooting where 26 victims were killed, 20 of which were children aged between six and seven years old, and six adult staff members.

The attack was carried out by Adam Lanza, who was 20-years-old at the time. Prior to arriving at the school, Lanza shot and killed his own mother in their home in Newtown, Connecticut.

People pay their respects at a makeshift shrine to the victims of an elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, December 17, 2012 (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)

The incident is the deadliest mass shooting at an elementary school in US history, and the fourth overall deadliest mass shooting.

Charlotte Bacon, 6, Daniel Barden, 7, Olivia Engel, 6, Josephine Gay, 7, Dylan Hockley, 6, Madeleine Hsu, 6, Catherine Hubbard, 6, Chase Kowalski, 7, Jesse Lewis, 6, Ana Márquez-Greene, 6, James Mattioli, 6, Grace McDonnell, 7, Emilie Parker, 6, Jack Pinto, 6, Noah Pozner, 6, Caroline Previdi, 6, Jessica Rekos, 6, Avielle Richman, 6, Benjamin Wheeler, 6 and Allison Wyatt, 6, were all murdered.

A pair of angel wings and balloons stand after being offered at a makeshift shrine to the victims of a elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, December 16, 2012 (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)

The school personnel killed in the shooting were Rachel D’Avino, 29, behaviour therapist, Dawn Hochsprung, 47, principal, Anne Marie Murphy, 52, special education teacher, Lauren Rousseau, 30, teacher, Mary Sherlach, 56, school psychologist and Victoria Leigh Soto, 27, teacher.

The shooting began shortly after 9:35am and ended less than five minutes later, at 9:40am, when Lanza committed suicide by turning the gun on himself.

What has Alex Jones said about the Sandy Hook shooting?

Following the Sandy Hook attack, Jones spread the conspiracy theory that the shooting wasn’t real, and was instead a hoax created by gun control advocates to push for gun control.

He claimed that “no one died” in Sandy Hook, and that the incident was “completely fake with actors”. Jones said that the children who were killed were acting for the cameras, and that parents who lost their children had faked their deaths.

People display portraits of Sandy Hook elementary school shooting victims as they take part in the March for Our Lives in New York on March 24, 2018 (Photo by EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP via Getty Images)

On his Infowars radio show, Jones said that the shooting was “staged” by the Government so that they could “go after our guns” and “start a civil war”.

The conspiracy theory led to the families of those connected to the Sandy Hook shooting to be harassed and to be sent death threats by people who believed the attack to be a hoax.

Jones later made similar claims about the Parkland shooting in 2018, just hours after the attack took place at Stoneman Douglas High School.

What was the defamation trial about?

Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of six-year-old Jesse Lewis, sued Jones and his media company Free Speech Systems over the harassment and threats they and other parents said they have endured for years after Jones and his Infowars website claimed the 2012 attack was a hoax.

Mr Heslin told the court in Austin, Texas: “What was said about me and Sandy Hook itself resonates around the world.

“As time went on I truly realised how dangerous it was … My life has been threatened. I fear for my life, I fear for my safety.”

Mr Heslin and Ms Lewis suffer from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder that comes from constant trauma, similar to that endured by soldiers in war zones or child abuse victims, a forensic psychologist who studied their cases and met with them told the court.

Neil Heslin, father of Sandy Hook shooting victim Jesse Lewis, 6, speaks out for gun reform at a press conference on March 21, 2013 in New York City (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

This isn’t the first time Jones has been taken to trial over his comments about Sandy Hook.

A number of families affected by the attack have previously filed defamation suits against Jones, with courts in Texas and Connecticut having already found Jones liable for defamation for his portrayal of the Sandy Hook massacre.

In both states, judges have issued default judgments against Jones without trials because he failed to respond to court orders and turn over documents.

Did Alex Jones admit that the shooting was real?

During the trial, Jones testified that he now understands it was irresponsible of him to declare the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax and that he now believes it was “100% real”.

Speaking the day after Jesse Lewis’ parents testified about the suffering, death threats and harassment they have endured because of what Jones has trumpeted on his media platforms, the Infowars host told a Texas courtroom that he definitely thinks the attack happened.

“Especially since I’ve met the parents. It’s 100% real,” Jones said at his trial to determine how much he and his media company, Free Speech Systems, owe for defaming Mr Heslin and Ms Lewis.

Mr Heslin and Ms Lewis said that an apology would not suffice and that Jones needed to be held accountable for repeatedly spreading falsehoods about the attack.

Newtown police officers pay their respects to the victims of an elementary school shooting in front of St Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, Connecticut, December 16, 2012 (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)

His lawyer asked him if he now understands it was “absolutely irresponsible” to push the false claims that the massacre did not happen and no-one died.

Jones said he does, but added: “[The media] won’t let me take it back.”

He also complained that he has been “typecast as someone that runs around talking about Sandy Hook, makes money off Sandy Hook, is obsessed by Sandy Hook”.

During a deposition in April, Jones insisted he wasn’t responsible for the suffering that Sandy Hook parents say they have endured because of the hoax conspiracy, including death threats and harassment by Jones’ followers.

“No, I don’t [accept] responsibility because I wasn’t trying to cause pain and suffering,” Jones said, according to the transcripts made public this month.

He continued: “They are being used and their children who can’t be brought back [are] being used to destroy the First Amendment.”

How much has he been ordered to pay?

In his case with Mr Heslin and Ms Lewis, Jone was ordered to pay $49.3 million by the court back in August.

Jones has since been ordered to pay $965 million dollars (£869 million) to those who suffered from his false claims that the Sandy Hook shooking was a hoax.

The verdict is the second big judgment against the Infowars host over his relentless promotion of the lie that the 2012 massacre never happened, and that the grieving families seen in news coverage were actors hired as part of a plot to take away people’s guns.

It came in a claim filed by the relatives of five children and three teachers killed in the mass shooting, plus an FBI agent who was among the first emergency services at the scene.

Alex Jones speaks to the media outside Waterbury Superior Court during his trial on September 21, 2022 in Waterbury, Connecticut (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

Some plaintiffs hugged in the courtroom after the verdict was read. Jones was not there, but live video from the court played on a split screen on his Infowars show.

“Hey, folks, don’t go buying big homes,” he said.

In both the Lewis case and the one in Connecticut, judges found the company liable for damages by default after Jones failed to co-operate with court rules on sharing evidence, including failing to turn over records that might have showed whether Infowars had profited from knowingly spreading misinformation about mass killings.

Because he was already found liable, Jones was barred from mentioning free speech rights and other topics during his evidence.

Jones now faces a third trial, in Texas, at the end of the year, in a claim filed by the parents of another child killed in the shooting.

What is Alex Jones’ net worth?

It is unclear how much Jones can afford to pay.

During the trial in Texas he said he could not afford any judgment over two million dollars (£1.8 million).

Free Speech Systems has filed for bankruptcy protection.

But an economist gave evidence in the Texas proceeding that Jones and his company were worth as much as $270 million dollars (£243 million).