“Schadenfreude” is defined as deriving pleasure from someone else’s misfortune, and, apparently, it’s best served with a vente latte.
Will Wilkerson is learning this the hard way.
Once “the executive vice president of operations for former president Donald Trump’s media business, a co-founder of Trump’s Truth Social website and a holder of stock options that might have one day made him a millionaire,” according to The Washington Post, he now trains baristas in North Carolina at a licensed Harris Teeter grocery store selling Starbucks beverages “where he works 5:30 a.m. shifts in a green apron and slip-resistant shoes, making Frappuccinos for $16 an hour.”
Lmao the loser who tried to trash Trump’s Truth Social is now working at a Starbucks inside a Harris Teeter somewhere in North Carolina. pic.twitter.com/grHOhH1R3U
— Raheem. (@RaheemKassam) April 29, 2023
In other words, Will Wilkerson went up against Donald Trump and lost — bigly.
The 38-year-old downwardly-mobile former executive turned over 150,000 internal documents, including emails and contracts, to the Securities and Exchange Commission and federal investigators in both Florida and New York. After blowing the whistle on what he described as misleading information given to small investors by the suits at Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG), he was promptly accused of having “concocted psychodramas” and fired.
“It’s an honest day’s work,” Wilkerson told WaPo of his new job. “I love what I do.”
It’s a good thing, because Wilkerson is now facing a defamation suit in a Florida circuit court, brought by TMTG CEO Devin Nunes.
As a federally-protected whistleblower, Wilkerson knew “retaliation” was a risk.
“I made the conscious decision. I knew the risks … especially in regards to retaliation,” he said. “But I don’t think I could have sat back and stayed quiet, even if I was compensated handsomely for doing so.”
“Ultimately, you know, I just want to do what’s right,” he added.
Of course, if the SEC takes action against TMTG and collects sanctions, Wilkerson could score a huge payday and leave his barista days behind him.
According to The Post, Wilkerson “could be eligible to make millions of dollars through the agency’s whistleblower reward program, depending on the amount of assessed penalties.”
In the meantime, he prefers to lay low when dealing with his co-workers, many of whom are teenagers.
“Obviously, I don’t shout from the rooftops here about my past history and my whistleblower status,” he said.
Still, it seems strange that Wilkerson would take such a normal job while his case runs its way through the courts.
The Post notes that his grandfather, Billy Wilkerson, was a “controversial legend: The founder of the Hollywood Reporter, and owner of some of the Sunset Strip’s most famous nightclubs, he had been a chief instigator of the anti-Communist Hollywood blacklist of the 1950s that came to define America’s red scare.”
The whistleblower has experience in both radio and television, and he “helped draft the company’s first plan for ‘Trump’s New Media Empire.'”
Wilkerson, WaPo reports, “was part of the team that pitched Trump over cheeseburgers at Mar-a-Lago, his opulent Palm Beach estate, three weeks after the insurrection.”
“They promised Trump an online platform where he would never be silenced, canceled or fact-checked,” The Post states. “What’s more, Wilkerson said, they offered him 90 percent of the company without him having to invest a single cent.”
The Post continues:
By last summer, Wilkerson’s own feelings on the company had soured, and he’d begun to worry that the same small-time investors the founders had counted on were now at serious risk. He alerted the SEC to his concerns via a whistleblower tip form in August, then spoke with The Post and the Miami Herald for stories published in October. Trump Media fired Wilkerson shortly after learning he’d spoken with a Post journalist, saying he’d made “unauthorized disclosures” to The Post.
On Truth Social, the outlet says, Wilkerson “is regarded as a Judas-like traitor and pasted into memes showing his head on the body of a snake.”
Over on Twitter, the consensus is that he’s a “loser.”
— Cody Lawniczak (@Lawnchairr) April 30, 2023
“Sounds like he was trying to sink the ship instead of building it,” tweeted one user.
Sounds like he was trying to sink the ship instead of building it.
— Moore George MD (@MooreGe50793151) April 30, 2023
Others questioned his status as a “whistleblower.”
“How is corporate espionage considered ‘whistleblowing’?” asked one user.
How is corporate espionage considered “whistleblowing” ?
— keyboard jockey (@keyboardjockey1) April 30, 2023
Regardless, many feel Wilkerson’s fall from the big leagues is cosmic justice in action.
As one user put it: “Karma’s a b*tch!”
Karma’s a b*tch!
— Julia (@Jules31415) April 30, 2023
Clarification: A Starbucks media relations team member reached out to our outlet to clarify “Mr. Wilkerson is not a Starbucks employee. He works at a licensed store which means that the store offers Starbucks coffee and other beverages but is wholly owned and managed by a licensee – in this case, Harris Teeter. Starbucks is not involved in any way in hiring for positions at licensed stores.”
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