While millions of small businesses in the United States folded in 2020 due to the global pandemic and being unable to secure a PPP loan -- Pastor Joel Osteen's Lakewood megachurch received a $4.4M COVID-19 PPP loan.
Osteen is ranked the fifth richest pastor in the country and is reported to be worth $40 million and $60 million.
According to a spokesperson for the church, Lakewood's PPP check went to 368 full- and part-time employees.
Donald Iloff told the Houston Business Journal:
"Believing the shutdown would only last a few weeks, Lakewood did not initially apply for PPP assistance during the first half of the program. However, as the shutdown persisted month after month, given the economic uncertainty, Lakewood finally applied for the PPP loan and has been able to provide full salaries and benefits including health insurance coverage to all of its employees and their families."
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He added, "It is important to note that, since 2004, Pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen have not received salaries from Lakewood Church, and the PPP funds do not provide any personal financial benefit to them, whatsoever."
Big multi-million dollar companies receiving the loans meant that smaller companies were refused because the funds allocated ran out.