The Los Angeles Lakers announced that they are returning a $4.6 million loan the organization received from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, intended to help small businesses stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite being one of the richest National Basketball Association franchises, which Forbes estimates is worth $4.4 billion, the Lakers applied and qualified for the loan meant for small businesses with a maximum of 500 workers.
The organization didn’t specify how they were deemed eligible for the loan, but they are now the largest organization to return money allocated under the Small Business Administration program.
“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 team said on Monday (April 27) in a statement. “The Lakers remain completely committed to supporting both our employees and our community.”
Small businesses across the country have complained of being left out of the coronavirus-spurred loan program, which initiated $349 billion in funding. Congress then authorized an additional $310 billion less than two weeks later.
The Lakers’ recent announcement comes after other instances of large corporations receiving money meant for much smaller businesses who are struggling just to remain open. At least 13 companies, includtion Autonation – the owner of Ruth Chris Steak House and Shake Shack – have announced they will refund a total of more than $170 million it received.