It started with a simple proposal, made via Facebook messenger.
Sean Hynes of St. Petersburg, an avid Trump supporter, reached out to Jeffrey Costa, an acquaintance from his time in Atlanta and a Biden supporter.
The two had engaged in friendly political debates on Facebook and kept in touch after they moved apart. Hynes suggested a bet.
If Biden won, Hynes would hand over $100. If Trump won, Costa would have to pay.
When Biden won, Hynes refused to acknowledge the election results — even after recounts and the Supreme Court’s rejection of lawsuits challenging Biden’s victory.
So Costa, a 50-year-old working in IT, decided to sue for his money, plus $250 in court costs and $300 in interest on the unpaid bet. He is representing himself in the action, filed Dec. 28 in Pinellas County small claims court.
“You should have the integrity in your principles to follow through with what you have proposed,” Costa said in an interview.
On Nov. 7, the day after the election was called in Biden’s favor, Costa messaged Hynes about making good on the bet.
“Bro, the elections are determined by the courts, not the networks,” Hynes responded. The two argued by message, back and forth, for weeks.
“It’s not settled by law, Sean,” Costa said. “Trump is mathematically eliminated.”
“The goalposts were always moving,” Costa told a reporter.
Finally, in December, Costa told Hynes he planned to sue for the money. Hynes unfriended him on Facebook.
Hynes could not be reached for comment. He did not answer a Facebook message or phone numbers listed for him. A relative contacted by the Tampa Bay Times said he’d pass along a request for an interview but Hynes did not respond.
For Costa, the lawsuit goes beyond the money. If Hynes had been willing to pay the bet, he’d be willing to drop the lawsuit. Hynes didn’t.
Said Costa, “I also felt that if you’re going to live in a post-fact world, there are consequences to that.”
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