LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles Lakers — one of the most valuable sports franchises on the planet — received $4.6 million this month through the federal aid package which was designed to provide relief to thousands of small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

LeBron James of the Lakers drives to the basket on Caris LeVert of the Brooklyn Nets during a 104-102 Nets win at Staples Center on March 10, 2020 in Los Angeles. (Getty Images)

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According to a report from ESPN Monday, the Lakers received and then later returned a $4.6 million loan the franchise somehow obtained through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

The $349 billion PPP program money – which was approved as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) earlier this month — dried up so quickly that Congress was forced to pass a second relief package last week which includes another $310 billion.

The PPP program has received considerable criticism for doling out money to larger companies while leaving smaller businesses with nothing.

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“The Lakers qualified for and received a loan under the Payroll Protection Program,” the Lakers said in a statement to ESPN. “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.”

According to Forbes, the Lakers were the eighth most valuable sports franchise in the world last year, valued at $3.7 billion. Their team payroll this year, which includes the likes of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, was $125 million.

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Last week, burger chain Shake Shack announced it had returned a $10 million PPP loan. Ruth’s Chris Steak House also followed on suit on a $20 million loan after getting significant backlash.

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USC, however, defended its decision to accept $20 million in federal relief money.