Lakers received $4.6 million ‘small business’ loan from feds, returned it

The Lakers are among the world’s most profitable professional sports teams. The Lakers also applied for and received a $4.6 million loan from a federal government program supposedly intended to help small businesses weather the coronavirus. The team has since returned the loan, according to an ESPN report Monday.
The Payroll Protection Program was intended as $349 million in relief for small businesses that had to shut their doors because of the coronavirus. It quickly ran out of money as intentionally lax oversight and minimal transparency led to huge corporations snapping up the funds. The loans were earmarked for companies with 500 or fewer employees, but it quickly became a slush fund for corporate chains that could work the process. Ruth’s Chris and Shake Shack infamously received $20 million and $10 million, respectively, and eventually returned the money. (The Lakers have about 300 employees, per ESPN.)
The PPP ran out of money and closed applications on April 16. It reopened on Monday, although with no protections to prevent the same thing from happening again. Experts say it could run out of money again in a week.
“The Lakers qualified for and received a loan under the Payroll Protection Program,” the Lakers told ESPN. “Once we found out the funds from the program had been depleted, we repaid the loan so that financial support would be directed to those most in need.”
The PPP doled out $349 billion in its first round; $2 billion of that has been returned so far. The Lakers are worth $4 billion, according to Forbes. ESPN reports that a lost playoff run would cost the Lakers “tens of millions of dollars” in revenue.
The Lakers were 49-14 — best in the Western Conference and second best in the league — when the NBA suspended its season because of the coronavirus.
They’re the only professional sports team known so far to have taken PPP money. But because the program is so opaque and MLB/NBA/NFL teams aren’t publicly traded, it’s unclear if a team would ever have to admit getting federal aid.

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