Home » ‘I Am One Quarter Cherokee:’ Nikola Founder Gives Unhinged Statement After Being Sentenced To Prison

‘I Am One Quarter Cherokee:’ Nikola Founder Gives Unhinged Statement After Being Sentenced To Prison

Trevor Milton Ts2

Trevor Milton, founder of alternative-fuel vehicle startup Nikola, was sentenced on Monday to four years in prison for two counts of wire fraud and one count of securities fraud. Milton was also ordered to pay a $1M fine in addition to serving time. Normally, this would be the sort of bite-sized tidbit reserved for The Morning Dump, but, um, things got weird.

In case you aren’t familiar with Nikola, let me give you a brief summary. This alternative fuel vehicle startup was founded by Milton, went public in 2020 via SPAC, and was quickly found out to have lied about some fairly important things. A Hindenburg Research report claimed that the Nikola One truck was made to look functional by just rolling it down a hill, and that was later confirmed by Nikola itself. From there, the stock value plummeted, the SEC mounted an investigation, and we eventually ended up here, with Milton’s sentencing.

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While we’ve all said some things we probably shouldn’t have in moments of desperation, it’s usually stuff like denying the passing of gas, or attempting not to make it obvious to your manager that you’re massively hungover. What Milton reportedly said in the courtroom, as per Inner City Press on the social media network formerly known as Twitter? Well, some of it reads like a Nick Mullen bit.

As I reflect on my heritage, sorry your Honor, I never had to talk about these things before. I am one-quarter Cherokee, there was ethnic cleansing against my ancestors.

My people were driven into Oklahoma. The trauma is visible on reservations. The generational trauma ended with my mother, she refused to pass it down to her children. From the time I was young, I had an unusually tender heart.

In the third grade, I saw “Where the Red Fern Grows.” I cried, and others laughed at me. I knew I would never be understood. Then my mother got stick. There was morphine for cancer. The doctors removed my mother’s breasts. She was bald.

Whew, there’s a lot to digest here, so let’s take a step back and chew the fat. The atrocities against indigenous people are terrible. I fail to see how rolling a truck down a hill connects to that. Any normal human being should cry at a film where dogs die, because that’s a normal response. It’s unfortunate about his mother.


Next, things get religious, because you just knew this was going to happen. However, it doesn’t seem like Milton thinks he’s going to hell.

My mother said there are colors in heaven that don’t exist on Earth. Your purity is broadcast in colors. For the first time in my life, excuse me, for the first time in your life, you are reviewed totally. Those who sought destruction were filth.

The process of repentance can take thousands of years on the other side. It is called Hell. Each decision is broadcast to billions of God’s creations. Our ability to absorb information is almost infinite. From that point on, I remember everything.

One day my decision will be broadcast in Heaven for everyone to see. I did not commit those crimes. I’m not dispute the verdict — I’m letting you know I didn’t do them.

Oh boy. I’m not even sure where to begin with this, and I’m not sure if I want to kick the hornets’ nest. Anyway, this evangelical reprieve comes sandwiched between two instances of comparing himself attempting to tie his fate to the fate of people of color.

Rubin Carter, one of the greatest African American boxers, was framed — he was found guilty by a jury too. In 1995, Black and Latino teenagers were convicted right here in NYC. Their reputations were destroyed. DNA exonerated them. The Five.

There is zero evidence that this is a race thing. Milton’s case doesn’t share any circumstances with those of Carter or the Central Park jogger case. It was a pretty well-documented case that ended up reaching the verdict that Milton had misled investors. It doesn’t carry the sort of sentence you’d see from a murder or attempted murder conviction.

Nikola One

Milton then reportedly went on to make a claim as to why he stepped down from his role at Nikola, alleging it was to take care of his wife following a bad plasma-related incident.


I stepped down because my wife was suffering life-threatening sickness. She suffered medical malpractice, someone else’s plasma. So I stepped down for that – not because I was a fraud. The truth matters. I chose my wife over money or power.

Stepping away from work to take care of a loved one is a noble thing to do, but it doesn’t exactly un-mislead investors or answer past sexual assault allegations. Anyway, white collar crime is bad, the courts have done their thing, and it looks like Trevor Milton is going away for a few years. Otherwise, I have no words. This is just a bizarre story, and I write about stuff like Brazilian-market Volkswagen-based pickup trucks for a living.

(Photo credits: Nikola/YouTube)

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3 months ago

So fun Nikola anecdote…..I’m in the transportation industry. Years back, I’m having a Valentine’s Day dinner with my boss and CEO and a few others (needless to say, I am no longer with the woman I was seeing at the time when I went on work trips over Valentine’s day, but I digress….).

We start talking alternative fuel trucks and it came up that we had put deposits on a few Nikola’s (large company so a few units was nothing). I hear this and ask our CEO, “Oh no….how much did we deposit?” He told me the total (think it was $10k a piece) and asked why I looked concerned. I calmly said, “Oh good. That’s not too much then. We aren’t seeing that money or those trucks ever. It’s a vaporware scam.” He asked why I thought that. I largely credited the great coverage from Jalopnik at the time indicating all signs pointing to “company with nothing but idea to bring to market pandering for investments to bring idea to market but will instead milk and cash out as soon as possible while attempting to crash the plane as softly as possible. Claims and plans that were to large to ever achieve (remember the ‘free hydrogen for life’ promise at the start?).” He then looked a little concerned and said, “Well, we will see.”

Fast forward years later. Yup. We saw.

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