The Los Angeles Lakers received some stiff criticism from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday for originally accepting a $4.6 million loan from the federal government that was meant for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Mnuchin appeared on the CNBC program “Squawk Box” to discuss how the administration of President Donald Trump has been dealing with the devastating financial losses of businesses.
The fact that the Lakers applied for and received money from the Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) program angered Mnuchin (at the two-minute mark), even after the team returned the loan.
"I never expected in a million years that the @Lakers–which I'm a big fan of the team–but I'm not a big fan of the fact that they took a $4.6M loan. I think that's outrageous, and I'm glad they returned it or they would have had liability," says @stevenmnuchin1 pic.twitter.com/igJBmFVKcB
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) April 28, 2020
“I never expected in a million years that the Los Angeles Lakers — which I’m a big fan of the team — but I’m not a big fan of the fact that they took a $4.6-million loan,” Mnuchin told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “I think that’s outrageous, and I’m glad they’ve returned it or they would have had liability.”
Technically, the Lakers met the qualifications, since the organization’s roughly 300-person workforce is less than the 500-person maximum amount.
However, obtaining the loan created a public relations nightmare for the team, which subsequently returned the money.
The Lakers were one of a number of prominent or publicly-traded companies that first accepted money before sending it back to the federal government amid heavy criticism.
Establishments such as Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Shake Shack and Potbelly Sandwich Shop returned even larger amounts, with car dealer AutoNation sending back $77 million.
The embarrassing information is the latest in a string of what’s been a season-long stretch of bad off-the-court news.