The Daily Mail recently published an article highlighting exactly how much money many celebrities received in Payment Protection Program (PPP) loans, which were awarded by the US Federal Government in the first couple of years of the COVID-19 pandemic. These loans were supposed to help businesses hit hard by COVID. Many of the businesses that actually needed the loans were denied, and many celebrities who didn't need the money got it anyway. And most of those loans to celebrities have now been forgiven:
The loan program cost US taxpayers $953 billion, with the University of Texas estimating that 15 percent of PPP claims – around $76billion – were fraudulent.
It was claimed that after the first round of PPP loans, up to 90 percent of ethnic minority business owners were unsuccessful at getting the loan and were at the 'end of a line', according to an Associated Press survey, which showed a disproportionate amount of white people in rich areas being approved for a loan.
Companies owned by "mega-rich celebrities" received millions in PPP loans, and for the most part have now had their loans completely forgiven. These celebrities include Jared Kushner, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Diddy, Paul Pelosi, Khloe Kardashian, Jeff Koons, Reese Witherspoon, and Tom Brady. The Daily Mail article provides detailed information on how much each of these folks received, how much they spent, what they spent it on (salaries, for example), how much was unaccounted for, and whether or not the loan was forgiven. As one example, "Kanye West's Yeezy LLC, based in La Palma, California, borrowed $2,363,585, with $1,772,689 being spent on payroll for 106 staff."
Other research has also made it abundantly clear that there were massive disparities in PPP lending, including incredibly clear racial disparities. It's never much of a surprise to find out that rich (and usually rich, white) people get richer from economic, social, and legal structures that benefit rich (and white) people, but to see these figures laid out so clearly is infuriating.