“The Lakers qualified for and received a loan under the Payroll Protection Program,” a Lakers spokesperson wrote in a statement emailed to CNN Business. “However, 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 Lakers organization qualified for the $4.6 million PPP loan because it has 303 full- and part-time employees, a source with knowledge of the situation told CNN. The source also said the company has not and is not planning to furlough or lay off any employees and that the Lakers’ top executives agreed to defer 20% of their salaries to ensure other employees could be paid.
Any loans returned or repaid will go back into the program for future disbursement, an SBA spokesperson told CNN Business last week.
As of April 16, the SBA had approved more than 1.66 million loans for more than $342.2 billion, according to an agency report. Of those, 4,412 were for $5 million and above. The high-value loans represented 0.3% of the total number of loans and 9% of the overall dollar value.
“When a wildly successful sports franchise that can afford to pay LeBron James nearly $40 million a year is being shamed into returning paycheck protection program funds, the question we should be asking is why the White House and Congress haven’t been more prescriptive about who and what can qualify for help,” Kyle Herrig, president of government watchdog group Accountable.US wrote via email to CNN Business. “This program is in desperate need of increased transparency so that struggling mom and pop small businesses on the cusp of bankruptcy can get the assistance they need.”
– CNN’s Kevin Dotson contributed to this report.