Billionaire entrepreneur Kanye West and his fashion brand Yeezy, which was valued at $3 billion in 2019, received a multimillion-dollar Paycheck Protection Program loan intended for small-business pandemic relief.
The PPP loans were supposed to be set aside to help small businesses but a list of loan beneficiaries released by the U.S. Treasury’s Small Business Administration shows that many questionable loans were approved.
Some publicly held companies and major corporations such as Shake Shack and Ruth’s Hospitality Group returned PPP loans they had received while many minority-owned companies got locked out of the benefit as the program ran out of money. As a result, several Black-owned businesses reported they would be forced to go out of business due to the covid-19 shutdown and lack of government funding to survive.
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West’s California-based Yeezy LLC is listed in the Treasury’s log as a recipient of a loan worth between $2 million and $5 million, The Daily Beast reported. The company self-identified as being male-owned and a Black-owned or African-American business. In its loan request, it said 160 jobs would be saved using the loan.
The PPP loans were part of the federal government’s coronavirus stimulus package approved in May. The money was handed out in the latest round of the Paycheck Protection Program, part of the $2 trillion CARES Act designed to provide economic relief to small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
The loans were supposed to go to companies with fewer than 500 employees and were forgivable if businesses spent the funds on eligible costs. The amount of forgiveness would be reduced if a company reduced the number of full-time employees or cut pay by more than 25 percent, Hollywood Reporter reported.
The Treasury released a list of 40,000 companies that received loans of $150,000 or more after complaints from Democrats that previous rounds of funding were not transparent, The Daily Beast reported.
Many loans have come into question, including one taken out by “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” star Maurice Fayne, who received a $2-million PPP loan for his Flame Trucking company. Instead of spending the money on company expenses, he purchased jewelry and a car for his own personal use. Fayne has been charged with bank fraud.
West’s Yeezy sneaker empire reportedly made $1.5 billion last year. The brand recently entered into a multi-year partnership with Gap, Business Insider reported. West, who is the sole owner of Yeezy, attained billionaire status in April, according to Forbes. Last week, his wife claimed to be a billionaire, too.
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Besides Yeezy, West owns $21 million in real estate, a $3.8 million car collection, and $297,050 worth of livestock, Forbes reports.
Putting his business duties aside, West — an ardent Trump supporter — has announced that he will be running for president. So far, it appears he is serious.