The Los Angeles Lakers have returned about $4.6 million obtained from a US government program meant to help small businesses recover from the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, ESPN reported Monday.
The NBA club, valued by Forbes magazine at $4.4 billion, told the sports television network in a statement they returned the money after learning the $349 billion in the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program had been exhausted within two weeks, with hundreds of thousands of small businesses unable to get access.
"The Lakers qualified for and received a loan under the Payroll Protection Program," ESPN reported the Lakers said in a statement.
"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, who typically have $434 million in annual revenue according to Forbes, would have access to loans from the NBA's line of credit of more than $1 billion.
The program was part of a $2.2 trillion federal initiative aimed at helping small businesses cover employee salaries, rents and other expenses while being forced to shut their doors to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
There were complaints after many business with huge financing were able to obtain money while others struggling to survive were shut out.
The Lakers boast multiple billionaires among their ownership group and $150 million in annual local television revenue, the NBA's richest such contract.