Two friends are at odds and now facing a potential court battle after the 2020 presidential election caused a rift in their relationship.
St. Petersburg resident Sean Hynes, a Donald Trump supporter, sent a message to his Joe Biden-supporting friend, Jeffrey Costa, also of St. Petersburg, suggesting a friendly $100 wager on the presidential election outcome. Costa accepted the bet.
But after Biden was declared the winner late that week Hynes refused to pay up, arguing the election results would be challenged and overturned in court. Costa attempted to reason with Hynes, saying “Trump is mathematically eliminated,” according to a small claims suit filed in Pinellas County on Dec. 28.
According to the suit, Hynes told Costa, “I’ll gladly pay you after it’s settled by law.”
At the time of the filing, Trump and his allies had already lost dozens of court cases seeking to overturn election results in various swing states Biden won. A recount in Georgia had also upheld Biden’s victory there. The only people at that point who were still arguing the election was stolen and would be overturned before Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration were Trump himself and his most ardent backers.
Costa is suing for the $100 bet plus $250 in court costs. The case is still pending.
Hynes’ Facebook feed, which at the time of this posting was public, shows a series of posts vaguely questioning the results of the 2020 election. On Jan. 6, the day a mob of Trump supporters breached the U.S. Capitol, Hynes’ posted a debunked image of a shirtless man in an animal fur at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk in the House chamber claiming he was Antifa. The man is Jake Angeli, better known as the “Q Shaman,” an ardent follower of QAnon and a known Trump supporter who has since been arrested for his role in the insurrection.
While suing over a $100 bet might seem absurd — after all, Costa didn’t actually lose money, he just wasn’t able to collect it — Costa said it’s not about the cash. Rather he said it’s the principle.
Costa said he notified Hynes when he filed the suit and that Hynes then promptly unfriended him.
The suit is a local anecdote that represents a national problem, one on full display last week when Trump supporters attempted to stop a constitutionally mandated democratic process in certifying the presidential election, which despite delays, did happen.
Members of Congress on Wednesday are expected to approve a second impeachment of Trump, this time for inciting insurrection. It will be the first time in history a President has been impeached twice. What the Senate will do from there remains unclear. Even as more and more Republicans come forward saying they support impeachment, many see the process, particularly with just one week left in Trump’s presidency, as another divisive move that will only further tear the country apart.
As Inauguration Day draws near, armed protests are expected at all 50 state Capitols as well as the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.