Los Angeles Lakers to Return Small Business Paycheck Protection Loan

Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) and LeBron James (23) celebrate as they walk back to the bench in the final seconds of overtime in the team’s NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. The Lakers won 119-110. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The Los Angeles Lakers are returning a loan they received through the paycheck protection program of the CARES Act stimulus, raising serious questions as to how one of America’s most valuable pro sports franchises was able to secure funds from the program.

The Lakers will return $4.6 million to the federal government, having sought out a loan of their own accord. A spokesman for the team claimed they had decided to return the money after learning that the program had been depleted, although it appears possible they were shamed into giving back the loan.

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.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin had earlier scolded the team for gaming the small business program, claiming it was “outrageous” that the Lakers had found a way to access the funds.

The Lakers are the second most valuable team in the NBA, with an estimation valuation of $4.4 billion. They’re not the only big business with access to capital that found a way to receive federal bailout money, with reports indicating that more than 200 publicly traded companies secured money through the PPP program.

Some other big businesses that gamed the system are returning the money, either of their own volition or after being shamed by the public or government officials. Mnuchin was warned of official auditing for all companies receiving more than $2 million through the program, suggesting the megabusinesses seeking to help themselves to small business resources will face more consequences for their greed.