Music megastars including Post Malone, Chris Brown, LeAnn Rimes and Nickelback reportedly received millions of dollars from a taxpayer-funded program intended to help venues and musicians struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, introduced in 2021, was operated through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and was designed as a lifeline for live entertainment business which had been decimated by lockdowns.
It doled out $14.5 billion to institutions such as movie theaters, ballets, performing arts venues and talent agents – as well as artists.
In comparison to the Paycheck Protection Program, which offered a loan, qualified applicants were eligible for up to $10 million which they did not need to pay back, in replacement for lost revenue.
According to an Insider investigation, limited liability companies tied to arena-filling acts took advantage of this.
Singer Post Malone and R&B artist Chris Brown, who has an estimated net worth of around $50 million, were reportedly among the artists who received the maximum $10 million payout.
Post Malone has an estimated net worth of at least $45 million, and owns various homes including a luxury $3 million compound in northern Utah with five bedrooms and seven bathrooms.
Rapper Lil Wayne, meanwhile, reportedly received $8.9 million and singers LeAnn Rimes and Nickelback received $2 million each.
While it is unclear how the money was used, there is no indication that these payments to big-name artists broke the law.
The aid could have been used to pay lighting and sound technicians, costumers, drivers, security personnel and other contractors left without work when tours or concerts had to be canceled.