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MrBeast, Jeffree Star, and FaZe Clan Received Coronavirus Relief Loans

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  • Jeffree Star, MrBeast, and FaZe Clan all received Paycheck Protection Program loans designed to help small businesses during the pandemic, according to a ProPublica database that tracks the disbursement of the federal loans.
  • MrBeast and Star both received loans ranging from $350,000 to $1 million, and FaZe Clan confirmed they had received $1.1 million.
  • Representatives for FaZe Clan and MrBeast defended the move in statements to Mashable and said they were concerned about the future of their financial situations and the loss of brand deals when they applied.
  • The move prompted backlash from people who argued the money should have gone to small businesses that needed it to survive, not wealthy creators.
  • Others, however, said that the government is responsible for who receives PPP loans. In fact, the program has received significant criticism in the past for giving loans to wealthy and politically connected organizations at the expense of small businesses in high need.

PPP Loans to Big Creators

Companies belonging to YouTube creators Jeffree Star and MrBeast as well as the esports organization FaZe Clan all received federal loans intended to help small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

The loans were given as part of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was signed into law under the CARES Act.

Reports about these specific creators were first reported on Wednesday by Mashable, which found the information in a searchable  ProPublica database that tracks all the PPP money that has been doled out.

According to the database, Jeffree Star Cosmetics was approved for a loan ranging from $350,000 to $1 million on May 3. MrBeast YouTube LLC was approved for a loan in the same range about a month earlier on April 14. The PPP application for FaZe Clan Inc was accepted at the end of April, for a loan ranging from $1 to $2 million.

“MrBeast and Jeffree Star’s loans are particularly surprising because both YouTubers have built brands on luxury and extravagance,” Mashable reported. 

“As thousands of small businesses struggle to stay afloat amid continued social distancing restrictions, YouTubers and other online figures are still able to safely churn out content. Immensely successful companies like Jeffree Star’s and FaZe Clan are hardly the brands hurting the most right now.”

Breakdown of Loans

To support those claims, the article goes on to give a more detailed look at the finances of each company and creator.

Staring with MrBeast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, Mashable detailed the frequent and hefty giveaways the creator often holds.

“[He] frequently gives away cash prizes, cars, and most recently, a private island through outlandish stunts,” the outlet reported, noting that he has been described as “YouTube’s viral philanthropist,” and detailing some of his more recent big charitable giveaways.

In June, MrBeast pledged to split a $150,000 donation to organizations supporting racial justice and police reform as well as several small businesses. As for how much PPP money his company got, a representative who talked to Mashable did not say, but the outlet reported MrBeast YouTube LLC received a total of $377,000.

“Multiple sponsors pulled out of projects, our advertising revenue plummeted by 70 percent, and we had numerous finished videos we couldn’t post,” the representative explained to Mashable. “We didn’t have access to testing, so we also had no idea at the time when we would be able to produce new content. We felt this was the best avenue that would help us weather the storm.”

The spokesperson also said that that the company is different from MrBeast’s personal accounts, and added that “all charitable donations, including a $150,000 to Black Lives Matter and $250,000 to SpecialEffect of course did not come from company resources.”

As for Jeffree Star, Mashable points to the wealth he has accumulated from his makeup empire. In 2018, Star was listed on Forbes’ highest-paid YouTubers. That year, he reportedly brought in $18 million and Jeffree Star Cosmetics was worth an estimated $100 million.

The article does note that Star likely took a hit because Morphe cut ties with him, but that happened after he was approved for the loan on May 3.

Regarding FaZe Clan, Mashable reported that the organization is valued at $240 million and ranks fourth on Forbes’ most valuable esports companies. As for how much money they got, the head of communications for the organization confirmed that they had received $1.1 million. 

Notably, the outlet also pointed out that in early April— just a few weeks before they were given that loan— FaZe Clan announced that they had  “closed out a $40 million funding round that also secured an exclusive partnership with NTWRK, an e-commerce platform that also works with Nike and Puma.” 

At the time, FaZe Clan CEO Lee Trink told Forbes that despite the circumstances, “we are fortunate we are in the right industry for a moment like this, when everyone is turning to esports and streaming, and we are positioned to be bigger on the other side of it.”

In a statement to Mashable, Trink defended taking the PPP loan.

“As a growing business, we continued to expand our staff in January. We are grateful for the PPP loan because it has allowed us to retain 100 percent of our employees despite having to reduce our revenue projection by many millions in esports alone due to the pandemic,” he said.

“It has always been our intention to repay the loan in full and we plan to as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Response

Many peopled responded to the news on social media and expressed anger that these companies had received money set aside for small businesses.

Others also took specific aim at MrBeast, asking why he would take money from the government that had been designated for struggling companies if he had enough personal wealth to be giving away his own money.

“Small businesses desperately applying for PPP loans and shutting down after not receiving it are victims of the actions of Mr. Beast and others like him,” one Twitter user wrote. “He has no right to take govt money and then re-give out to those he deems worthy. That’s simply powerful ppl playing with $$”

On the other side, some people also said that MrBeast deserved the loan because he helps people. Others still argued that these companies and creators are not directly to blame and that its really on the government to decide who the loans go to.

From early on, the Trump administration has received significant backlash over its handling of the PPP loan disbursements, specifically in regards to who has received them and who has not.

When the money was first being sent out, massive outrage spread over the fact that Shake Shack received a $10 million PPP loan, which it eventually gave back. Since then, there has also been anger around other big recipients like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, the Catholic Church, and the Lakers.

Companies owned by wealthy celebrities like Khloe Kardashian, Kanye West, and Reese Witherspoon have also drawn ire for receiving PPP aid.

Problems From the Top

While some have argued that those people never should have applied in the first place, there is also hard evidence showing tons of issues with how this money has been allocated from the top down.

Earlier this month, a House oversight committee concluded that thousands of PPP loans were given to companies that should not have received them. 

According to a report released just last Tuesday by the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, the Trump administration gave hundreds of loans to companies that did not even fill out complete applications, as well as nearly $100 million to companies that were ineligible for the loans because they had been banned from working with the federal government.

Other studies and reports have found that many large companies got loans before small businesses, who were largely left out of the first round of loan distributions despite needing the money the most. 

For example, economists at the University of Chicago and MIT found that just 15% of companies in the areas “most affected by declines in hours worked and business shutdowns” received PPP funding, but in areas least affected, 30% of companies received PPP funding. 

Even beyond all of that, there are a ton of problems with the data and records of the loans that not only call into question how the program is managed but also how effective it has been in helping companies keep employees on their payroll.

According to a recent report by The Los Angeles Times, out of the roughly 4.9 million loans awarded as of July, over 550,000 approved applications listed zero jobs retained, and over 320,000 left it blank entirely. Seven loans even listed negative jobs retained. 

The Times also reported that many small businesses were approved for loans much bigger than what they actually recieved and that there was no explanation for the discrepancy in the data.

Both Democrats and Republicans have pushed for another round of PPP funding in the next coroanvirus stimulus bill, but without a massive overhaul to the system and increased accountability measures, many are concerned the loans will continue to be improperly allocated.

See what others are saying: (Mashable) (Insider) (The Los Angeles Times)

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TikTok’s Bryce Hall Launches Finance Podcast

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  • TikToker Bryce Hall has just launched a finance podcast titled “Capital University” with entrepreneur and investor Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano.
  • Pompliano will serve as a mentor figure, teaching Hall and listeners about building generational wealth, the basics of investing, and money management.
  • Hall was inspired to start the project after learning from the mistakes he made with money early on in his career. In the first episode of the podcast, he was also critical of other influencers who rely on YouTube ad revenue and TikTok brand deals while overspending on lavish items.
  • Some wonder if this venture will help change the public’s perception of Hall, who has developed a negative reputation for throwing massive parties during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Capital University

TikTok star and Sway House member Bryce Hall officially launched a finance podcast Tuesday where he and his fans will learn about money management.

The 21-year-old’s podcast is called “Capital University,” and he’s joined by co-host Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano, an entrepreneur and investor who has worked for companies like Facebook and Snapchat before getting into venture capital.

Pompliano is supposed to serve as a sort of mentor figure, teaching Hall and listeners about building generational wealth, the basics of investing, and other tips for ensuring financial security.

Inspiration Behind the Podcast

However, Hall will also use the podcast to talk about his personal experience with fame and wealth at a young age. He told PEOPLE magazine that the idea for the podcast stemmed from mistakes he made earlier in his career.

″I always thought money was an object,″ Hall said. ″I was spending money before I even had it.″

He also talked about going ″completely broke″ and getting hit with taxes. All of this made him realize the importance of money management, which he though his fans might also want to know about.

Though he’s admitted to making mistakes with his money, he’s definitely worked to turn things around. For instance, he recently created an energy drink company called Ani with fellow Sway House creator Josh Richards.

On top of that, in the first episode of the podcast, Hall talked about his four-month-old merch brand, Party Animal, saying it clocked in more than $1 million in its first quarter.

Criticism of Other Influencers

With this new interest in learning about finance and business, the public could be seeing a lot more from Hall soon.

At the same time though, he also caught some attention for calling out the spending habits of another TikTok star, Thoman Petrou. He’s the co-founder of the Hype House, and Hall claims that Petrou, like other influencers, is taking a shorter-term approach in his career by relying on YouTube ad revenue and TikTok brand deals.

In fact, Hall estimated that Petrou makes about $150,000 a month but says he overspends on lavish items.

“He, along with many other influencers, like to really prove that they’re making a shit ton of money,” he said in the first episode of the podcast.

“But when you spend it like an idiot, and you’re buying like McLarens, Porsches, i8s, like just cash, I look at these kids and I’m like ‘Oh my god. They’re so stupid.'”

“They don’t understand that social media, this poppin’ time that they’re in, isn’t going to last forever, and right now, when you’re at the top, this is when you’re going to be making the most money. You just got to find a way to sustain it.”

For now, it will be interesting to see the reactions to this venture, and Hall’s new interest in finance has some wondering if it could change people’s perception of him. Hall earned himself a bad reputation for repeatedly throwing massive parties during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Still, some compare his success to that of YouTube Jake Paul, who is also recognized as a businessman and entrepreneur but has continued to embroil himself in controversies.

See what others are saying: (PEOPLE) (Tubefilter)

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Influencers Exposed for Posting Fake Private Jet Photos

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  • A viral tweet showed a studio set in Los Angeles, California that is staged to look like the inside of a private jet.
  • Some influencers were called out for using that very same studio to take social media photos and videos.
  • While some slammed them for faking their lifestyles online, others poked fun at the behavior and noted that this is something stars like Bow Wow have been caught doing before.
  • Others have even gone so far as to buy and pose with empty designer shopping bags to pretend they went on a massive spending spree.

A tweet went viral over the weekend exposing the secret behind some influencer travel photos.

“Nahhhhh I just found out LA ig girlies are using studio sets that look like private jets for their Instagram pics,” Twitter user @maisonmelissa wrote Thursday.

“It’s crazy that anything you’re looking at could be fake. The setting, the clothes, the body… idk it just kinda of shakes my reality a bit lol,” she continued in a tweet that quickly garnered over 100,000 likes.

The post included photos of a private jet setup that’s actually a studio in California, which you can rent for $64 an hour on the site Peerspace.

As the tweet picked up attention, many began calling out influencers who they noticed have posted photos or videos in that very same studio.

@the7angels

Come fly with the angels 👼

♬ Hugh Hefner – ppcocaine

Perhaps the most notable influencers to be called out were the Mian Twins, who eventually edited their Instagram captions to admit they were on a set.

While a ton of people were upset about this, others pointed out that it’s not exactly that new of an idea. Even Bow Wow was once famously called out in 2017 for posting a private plane photo on social media before being spotted on a commercial flight. 

Twitter users even noted other ridiculous things some people do for the gram, like buying out empty shopping bags to pretend they’ve gone on a shopping spree.

Meanwhile, others poked fun at the topic, like Lil Nas X, who is never one to miss out on a viral internet moment. He photoshopped himself into the fake private jet, sarcastically writing, “thankful for it all,” in his caption.

So ultimately, it seems like the moral of this story is: don’t believe everything you see on social media.

See what others are saying: (LADBible) (Dazed Digital) (Metro UK)

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South Korea’s Supreme Court Upholds Rape Case Sentences for Korean Stars Jung Joon-young and Choi Jong-hoon

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  • On Thursday morning, the Supreme Court in Seoul upheld the sentences of Jung Joon Young and Choi Jong Hoon for aggravated rape and related charges.
  • Jung will serve five years in prison, while Choi will go to prison for two-and-a-half.
  • Videos of Jung, Choi, and others raping women were found in group chats that stemmed from investigations into Seungri, of the k-pop group BigBang, as part of the Burning Sun Scandal.
  • The two stars tried to claim that some of the sex was consensual, but the courts ultimately found testimony from survivors trustworthy. Courts did, however, have trouble finding victims who were willing to come forward over fears of social stigma.

Burning Sun Scandal Fall Out

South Korea’s Supreme Court upheld the rape verdicts against stars Jung Joon-young and Choi Jong-hoon on Thursday after multiple appeals by the stars and their co-defendants.

Both Jung and Choi were involved in an ever-growing scandal involving the rapes and sexual assaults of multiple women. Those crimes were filmed and distributed to chatrooms without their consent.

The entire scandal came to light in March of 2019 when Seungri from the k-pop group BigBang was embroiled in what’s now known as the Burning Sun Scandal. As part of an investigation into the scandal, police found a chatroom that featured some stars engaging in what seemed to be non-consensual sex with various women. Police found that many of the message in the Kakaotalk chatroom (the major messaging app in South Korea) from between 2015 and 2016 were sent by Jung and Choi.

A Year of Court Proceedings

Jung, Choi, and five other defendants found themselves in court in November 2019 facing charges related to filming and distributing their acts without the consent of the victims, as well as aggravated rape charges. In South Korea, this means a rape involving two or more perpetrators.

The court found them all guilty of the rape charge. Jung was sentenced to six years behind bars, while Choi and the others were sentenced to five years. Jung was given a harsher sentence because he was also found guilty of filming and distributing the videos of their acts without the victim’s consent.

During proceedings, the court had trouble getting victims to tell their stories. Many feared being shamed or judged because of the incidents and didn’t want the possibility of that information going public. Compounding the court’s problems was the fact that other victims were hard to find.

To that end, the defendants argued that the sexual acts with some of the victims were consensual, albeit this didn’t leave out the possibility that there were still victims of their crimes. However, the court found that the testimony of survivors was trustworthy and contradicted the defendant’s claims.

Jung and Choi appealed the decision, which led to more court proceedings. In May 2020, the Seoul High Court upheld their convictions but reduced their sentences to five years for Jung and two and a half years for Choi.

Choi’s sentence was reduced because the court found that he had reached a settlement with a victim.

The decision was appealed a final time to the Supreme Court. This time they argued that most of the evidence against them, notably the Kakaotalk chatroom messages and videos, were illegally obtained by police.

On Thursday morning, the Supreme Court ultimately disagreed with Jung and Choi and said their revised sentences would stand.

Jung, Choi, and the other defendants will also still have to do 80 hours of sexual violence treatment courses and are banned from working with children for five years.

See What Others Are Saying: (ABC) (Yonhap News) (Soompi)

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