The program’s funds were exhausted in two weeks due to high demand

By Nadine Halili | Photo by Ramiro Pianarosa/Unsplash

The Los Angeles Lakers have returned approximately $4.6 million worth of federal loans meant for small businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Lakers were reported to be the only NBA team to have applied for the loan through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program; they were also one of the first to be granted the relief loan. The program had an initial $349 billion pool, which has since been fleshed out due to the high demand for the aid. The Lakers told ESPN that they returned the money when they found out that the funds ran out.

“The Lakers qualified for and received a loan under the Payroll Protection Program,” the team 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 Lakers remain completely committed to supporting both our employees and our community.”

The program was established on Apr. 3 as part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act to help small businesses cover employee salaries and other expenses. The Lakers is one of the most prestigious franchises in the NBA, having a payroll of more than $122 million just for the franchise’s players. LeBron James has a base salary of more than $37 million just for the current season. Since the season’s suspension, the team risks losing millions of dollars in revenue for the team. As a business with about 300 employees, the Lakers were eligible for a loan from the program as long as they don’t lay off any of their employees and spend 75 percent of the amount on payroll.

Many small businesses were unable to benefit from the program since funds were exhausted in just two weeks.

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