The Los Angeles Lakers' $4.6 million loan was 'outrageous,' Treasury Secretary says as team returns money meant for small businesses

The Los Angeles Lakers received a $4.6 million loan through the Paycheck Protection Program meant for small businesses.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, right, passes while under pressure from Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Feb. 21, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday slammed the Los Angeles Lakers' participation in a government relief program meant for small businesses.

"I'm a big fan of the team, but I'm not a fan of the fact that they took a $4.6 million loan," he said on CNBC. "I think that's outrageous and I'm glad they returned it or they would have had liability."

At least 248 publicly traded companies took advantage of the program, the language of which implied many were eligible based on employee headcount. 15 of them, including the Lakers, Shake Shack, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and others, have said they will return the loans after the government released updated guidelines, according to analysis by FactSquared.

"The Lakers qualified for and received a loan under the Payroll Protection Program," the Lakers said in a statement on Monday, according to The Guardian. "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."

Going forward, companies can expect a more thorough review as the $310 billion in fresh funding for the program is doled out.

"I'm gong to be putting out an announcement this morning, that for any loan over $2 million, the SBA will be doing a full review of that loan before there is loan forgiveness," Mnuchin said . "We will make sure that what was the intent for taxpayers is fulfilled here."

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