Will Wilkerson, 38, a former executive who was vice president of operations for the Trump Media and Technology Group, overseeing the development of Truth Social is now working as a barista trainer at Starbucks in North Carolina in a $16-an-hour job.
He was fired six months ago by Trump after giving 150,000 internal documents, contracts, and emails to the Securities and Exchange Commission and federal and state investigators.
Wilkerson’s high-paying job with Trump together with stock options had the potential to make him a millionaire, but he decided to distance himself from the Truth Social platform after he became concerned that investors in the company might be at risk of losing their investments.
Despite the earning potential he had while working for Trump, Wilkerson said he’s more focused on doing what’s right.
‘I made the conscious decision. I knew the risks … especially in regards to retaliation. But I don’t think I could have sat back and stayed quiet, even if I was compensated handsomely for doing so. I’m here and I’m not going away’ he told the Washington Post. ‘Ultimately, you know, I just want to do what’s right.’
After contacting investigators in New York and Florida he accused the Trump Media and Technology Group of violating securities laws revealing inconsistencies in the company’s expenses that could put shareholders at risk. Wilkerson has now become a federally-protected whistleblower.
Will Wilkerson, 37, was fired as an executive VP at Donald Trump’s Truth Social after giving 150,000 emails and documents to federal and state investigators
Wilkerson’s high-paying job with Trump together with stock options had the potential to make him a millionaire, but he decided to distance himself from the Truth Social platform after he became concerned that investors in the company might be at risk of losing their investments
Despite the earning potential he had while working for Trump, Wilkerson chose to prioritize doing ‘what’s right.’
Among the emails submitted to investigators is an exchange between Wilkerson and fellow co-founder Andy Litinsky, who was allegedly fired as payback for refusing to hand over some of his shares, worth millions of dollars, to former first lady Melania Trump, according to the Post.
Trump had already been given 90 percent of the company’s shares in exchange for the use of his name and some minor involvement.
Wilkerson was fired with the company explaining he had ‘concocted psychodramas.’
This month, the company’s chief executive, former Republican congressman Devin Nunes, sued Wilkerson for defamation in a court in Florida.
Nunes claims he had been subjected to ‘anxiety,’ ‘insecurity,’ ‘mental anguish’ and ’emotional distress’ as a result of Wilkerson’s comments.
Wilkerson applied for hundreds of jobs after leaving Truth Social, but he believes that the drama surrounding the ordeal led hiring managers to steer clear of him, but Starbucks called him back the day after he submitted his resume. He had previous barista experience from his 20s.
Truth Social had marketed itself as the next big media empire, with plans for a presence in social media, video streaming, live events and online payments – not just as a rival to Twitter but Disney, Google and Amazon. Wilkerson said the truth inside the company was very different
He now works the 5:30am shift inside a Harris Teeter grocery store in North Carolina.
Wilkerson told the Post said that he is happy with his new job. ‘It’s an honest day’s work. I love what I do,’ he said. ‘Obviously, I don’t shout from the rooftops here about my past history and my whistleblower status,’ Wilkerson said.
The Post has described Wilkerson as ‘one of the biggest threats to the Trump company’s future.’
In October last year Wilkerson publicly accused Trump Media and Technology Group of violating securities laws.
He says that he could not stay silent while the company’s executives gave what he viewed were misleading information to investors, many of whom are small-time shareholders loyal to the Trump brand.
Truth Social marketed itself as the next big media empire, with plans for a presence in social media, video streaming, live events and online payments – not just as a rival to Twitter but Disney, Google and Amazon.
In October last year Wilkerson publicly accused Trump Media and Technology Group of violating securities laws. He says that he could not stay silent while the company’s executives gave what he viewed were misleading information to investors, many of whom are small-time shareholders loyal to the Trump brand
Wilkerson is now working as a barista trainer the 5:30am shift inside a Harris Teeter grocery store in North Carolina
But Wilkerson said from his position inside the company it was a different story with bitter infighting, technical failures and chaotic jockeying for power among Trump allies which sullied its potential with some workers left crying at their desks.
‘One day, you know, he [Trump] would be in a very, very happy mood,’ Wilkerson said. ‘The next day he would read something in the paper and just yell, just be livid. That’s who we were dealing with.’
Truth Social has seen surges of interest, but its user base remains tiny compared to the growth targets TMTG laid out in its plans when the company told investors that the app would reach 56 million users by 2024 and 81 million by 2026.
Truth Social has been downloaded about 7 million times across both platforms,
Trump had 5.2 million followers on Truth Social as of Saturday, compared to the more than 88 million followers he had on Twitter when the platform suspended him following the January 6 Capitol riots.
Trump Media was originally set to go public after a merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp., but the company has been pushing a vote to delay the merger.
The merger, which is now being investigated by the SEC, something TMTG has alleged is keeping the deal from going forward.
Wilkerson also shed light on inconsistencies in the company’s expenses. ‘The vast majority of SPACs just don’t rack up these kinds of expenses … and the shareholders could be in some danger of getting pursued by the unpaid vendors,’ he said.
‘It could be an interesting and somewhat fitting end for Trump’s SPAC: that it ends in failure and liquidation and sticks its shareholders — presumably many or most of whom are his political supporters — with the bill.’
If the SEC takes action against Trump’s company Wilkerson could make millions of dollars through the agency’s whistleblower reward program, but there is no guarantee.
Wilkerson says the former president’s media company has a troubling history.
The early hype of Trump Media had made it into a financial blockbuster with an initial public offering raising $300 million for Digital World, while a group of private investors pledged another $1 billion.
Investors had sent the stock price of the SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) soaring to a high of $175 on the strength of its proposed merger with Trump Media.
In September 2022, shortly before Wilkerson was fired, Forbes magazine estimated that Trump’s stake in Trump Media was his ‘single most valuable asset,’ worth roughly $730 million.
But the value of the venture has plummeted since then, with each Digital World share now worth about $13.