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Los Angeles Lakers got $4.6 million from small business relief program, then returned it

The Lakers, recently ranked by Forbes as the second most valuable team in the NBA, applied for a federal loan through the Paycheck Protection Program.
Los Angeles Lakers' Anthony Davis (3) and LeBron James (23) celebrate as they walk back to the bench in the final seconds of overtime in the team's NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

LOS ANGELES (TEGNA) — The Los Angeles Lakers said Monday that it applied for and initially received $4.6 million in federal loans from a program that was meant to help small businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

When funding for the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program quickly ran out, the Lakers said it returned the money it had been given.

"The Lakers qualified for and received a loan under the Payroll Protection Program," the Lakers said in a statement to ESPN and CNBC. "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 Paycheck Protection Program was part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act and enabled small businesses with fewer than 500 employees to apply for loans to help cover employee salaries and other costs. As ESPN noted, the Lakers were eligible for a PPP loan because they have around 300 employees.

Forbes has ranked the Lakers as the second most valuable NBA team, with an valuation of $4.4 billion.

When the Paycheck Protection Program's initial $349 billion in funds ran out, there was public outcry over the news that some major restaurant chains had received money.

As a result, several companies have announced they're returning their loans, including the New York-based burger chain Shake Shack, which got a $10 million loan, and Kura Sushi, which is based in Irvine, California, and got nearly $6 million. A third company, Boston-area biotechnology company Wave Life Sciences USA Inc., told the AP that it started the process to repay the $7.2 million loan it received.

A source told CNBC that the Lakers were the only NBA team to receive a PPP loan. Data analytics firm FactSquared reported Sunday that it found more than 220 publicly traded companies applied for loans from the PPP.

The NBA season has been suspended since March 11, when a Utah Jazz player tested positive for COVID-19.