Recent reports indicate that massive online brands and influencers like FaZe Clan, Mr Beast, and Jeffree Star received millions of dollars in federal relief PPP loans, which were intended for struggling small businesses.
The U.S. government’s Paycheck Protection Program was intended to offer struggling small businesses an infusion of cash to help them stay afloat in a difficult environment. However, the program has encountered legitimate controversy as much of the funds quickly ran out with reports of major, successful companies like Shake Shack and the Los Angeles Lakers receiving substantial loans instead of smaller enterprises.
Now, it has been confirmed that some widely successful online figures received heavy funding. While it was reported months ago that FaZe Clan was among various esports organizations (including NRG and AndBox) to receive big-figure loans, Mashable’s Morgan Sung went through the ProPublica public database for loans to discover that Mr Beast and Jeffree Star are among the successful online figures to partake in the federal lending programs.
MrBeast YouTube LLC received $377,000 in PPP loans. FaZe Clan received just under $1.1 million. Jeffree Star Cosmetics didn't confirm how much the company received, but SBA data says it's between $350,000 and $1 million
— morgan sung (@morgan_sung) September 9, 2020
FaZe’s loan was confirmed to have been in the $1-2 million range. For Mr Beast, his Mr Beast YouTube LLC received $377,000. And, for Star, his Jeffree Star Cosmetics, Inc. received a loan that was between $350,000 and $1 million, with the exact amount undisclosed.
Unlike traditional loans, the PPP loans do not need to be repaid if they are used to satisfy salary needs for employees. Considering the successes some of these organizations have had relative to smaller, struggling businesses, this has led to a degree of public outcry as people are concerned their taxpayer money is being given to those who need it least, rather than those who need it most.
That's straight up fraud. Lock them up and get the $$ back
— MottsNile (@MottsNile) September 10, 2020
Considering that each of these brands makes most of their money online, it is unsurprising that people believed that their businesses were not as impacted by the situation over the last several months than locally focused small businesses. While restaurants and retail stores were unable to access their typical clientele, the Atlanta FaZe continued to win Call of Duty League prize money and each brand was able to continue posting videos to YouTube and the like.
— Jeffree Star (@JeffreeStar) September 10, 2020
The belief that these individuals are not in need of funding has also been amplified by some of their recent spending, or, in FaZe’s case, recent valuations. After a $40 million funding round in April 2020, FaZe was valued at $240 million. More recently, Mr Beast bought a small island for $700,000, and Star was scrutinized for taking a private jet to Wyoming in order to avoid California’s fires.
As of yet, none of the groups criticized have responded to fan concerns over these newly confirmed loans. Similarly, there has been little government response to the public’s questioning of the loaning process.