Billionaire rapper and shoe designer Kanye West’s company has received a multimillion-dollar loan as part of the federal government’s coronavirus stimulus package, according to records released Thursday by the U.S. Treasury’s Small Business Administration.
The money was handed out in the latest round of the Paycheck Protection Program, part of the Trump administration’s $2 trillion CARES Act designed to provide economic relief to small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
Yeezy LLC, a California company, is listed in the Treasury’s log as a recipient of a loan worth between $2 million and $5 million. The company self-identified as being male-owned and a Black or African-American business. It said 160 jobs were saved using the loan.
California business records list Kanye West as the manager of Yeezy LLC, a holding company established in Delaware and run out of a La Palma, California, office. West’s Yeezy sneaker empire reportedly made $1.5 billion last year.
West’s loan poses major questions of conflict of interest, given West’s outspoken support for President Donald Trump, his multiple visits to the White House, and the outrageously lavish lifestyle he leads with wife Kim Kardashian West.
Both he and his wife have celebrated attaining billionaire status recently. After being effectively broke years ago, West turned his fortunes around with his best-selling Yeezy sneakers and attained billionaire status in April, according to Forbes.
Last week, his wife claimed to be a billionaire, too. “I am so proud of my beautiful wife Kim Kardashian West for officially becoming a billionaire,” West tweeted, alongside a photo of some vegetables.
PPP loans, available for companies with fewer than 500 employees, are written off by the government if companies spend the money on eligible costs and retain a certain percentage of staff during the pandemic.
The list of 40,000 companies to receive loans of $150,000 and above was made public on Monday after complaints from Democrats that previous rounds of funding were not transparent.
The program has been plagued with issues, from digital portals that crashed as soon as applications opened, to banks prioritizing their biggest customers, to Trump-friendly companies receiving big loans. Several large companies, like Shake Shack and Harvard, returned loans after attracting negative publicity.
Loans of $150,000 and above represent about 13 percent of all loans approved but about three quarters of total loan dollars approved, according to CNBC.
Yeezy LLC has been contacted for comment.