Kanye West‘s YEEZY brand received more than two million dollars under the Trump administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Newly released government documents verify that YEEZY is one of the companies that received funds as part of a $660 billion relief program implemented to help small businesses keep their workforce employed during the coronavirus crisis.
According to a report disclosed by the US Treasury’s Small Business Administration yesterday, YEEZY received between $2 million and $5 million through PPP. According to Forbes, these funds helped to protect 106 jobs.
Considering YEEZY brought in approximately $1.3 billion in 2019, the fact that West was even eligible for the loan is not without controversy, particularly as 87 percent of the approved companies received an average of $107,000. What’s more — as Vox reported in April, one month after the stimulus bill was passed — the PPP pot ran dry very quickly, leaving around 700,000 small businesses and nonprofits waiting on funding.
Further, it would seem that YEEZY is one of a concerning number of companies with ties to the Trump administration that financially benefitted under the program. The Washington Post reports that businesses owned by members of Congress, institutions linked to Trump’s family, and even the law practice that represented the president also received millions in relief.
West has publicly signaled his support for Trump, famously meeting with the president at the White House in 2018. Under normal circumstances, the billionaire rapper and entrepreneur might have harmed his 2020 presidential run by receiving the huge funding injection, however, the current administration has eroded many of the protections that previously prevented taxpayer funds from being awarded to companies that have potential conflicts of interest among influential Washington figures.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had initally planned to keep the list of PPP beneficiaries confidential, but Democrats pushed for greater transparency. The data dump has revealed that fashion brands including Iconix Brand Group (Joe Boxer and Ed Hardy), suitmaker Hickey Freeman, and designers Oscar de la Renta and Vera Wang received funds, too.