PPP Relief funds have become the latest scam taking the nation by storm. A lot of people are being accused of cashing in on money meant to cover expenses for small businesses and using it to splurge on their lavish lifestyles. Even worst are the celebrities coming under fire for accepting these loans. Joel Olsteen has been getting the side-eye for months after taking a large PPP loan at the end of 2020. He’s received so much negative feedback that it is now reported that he will be paying it back in full.
PPP is short for The Paycheck Protection Program, which provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs, including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. Many people have taken out these loans despite not actually qualifying for them or needed them due to how easily they were to apply for and how quickly they payout.
In December of 2020, Joel Olsteen’s megachurch Lakewood reportedly took out a $14 million dollar PPP loan. At the time the church’s spokesman Doland Iloff claimed the funds were needed to help the worship center’s 368 employees. Like so many others, they were forced to stay home during the lockdown period.
The church is the biggest in the country and reportedly welcomes upwards of 43,500 worshippers weekly. With that kind of wealth and steady income, some questioned why they could not help the staff without the PPP loan. Especially since Olsteen reportedly does not collect on the $200,000 annual salary he’s entitled to as head pastor of Lakewood.
Another pastor is facing 20 years due to his PPP loan. Pastor Rudolph Brooks Jr. is the founder and senior pastor of the Kingdom Tabernacle of Restoration Ministries in Washington, D.C. He is facing up to 20 years after he allegedly took out a $3.5 million PPP loan to splurge on personal expenses, including 39 vehicles. According to VladTV, when Pastor Brooks was apprehended the FBI seizd over $2.2 million along with seven vehicles which included a Tesla, Bentley, Escalade, Yukon, Benz and two Infinity Q50s.
It is not just churches running it up on the PPP loans. Celebrities have come under fire too. Kanye West received a loan at the top of the year. He was rumored to have gotten somewhere between $2 million to $5 million to help pay employees of his Yeezy company. He is rumored to employ about 100 people and the company has an estimated value of $3 billion. Soon to be Ex sister-in-law Khloe Kardashian also got a PPP loan for her company Good America. The reality star and beauty mogul is reportedly worth $40 million dollars, and received a loan for $2million. Jay-Z, Reese Witherspoon, Pearl Jam and Jeff Koons have also all received assistance in the form of PPP loans. No word yet on if any of them plan to pay the loans back. Fans of Tom Brady have started a petition for him to pay his back however, and it is currently sitting at 142,000 signatures.