Several contestants from “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” were asked this week to explain to their fans why they applied for government loans during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Bachelor subreddit was abuzz after posts drew attention to public records that showed several contestants had applied to the government’s Paycheck Protection Program. Some were able to receive loans in excess of $20,000. As the numbers circulated on Reddit and later in Vulture, fans questioned whether the reality stars were the intended beneficiaries of the program, as many contestants have parlayed their newfound fame into careers as influencers, podcasters and entertainers.
Many influencers are able to build their brands and create content by hiring employees and working through LLCs. These small businesses were like many others that took P.P.P. loans to stay afloat, but the optics were different for “Bachelor” stars, who often promote aspirational lifestyles after the show ends.
The $800 billion Paycheck Protection Program, which ended May 31, offered companies forgivable loans of up to $10 million to cover roughly two months of payroll and a handful of other expenses, such as rent. Applicants were not required to demonstrate any financial harm from the pandemic; they simply had to certify that “current economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary” to support their continuing operations.
Last year, most sole proprietorships — companies that employ no one other than the business’s owner — had to be profitable to qualify for a loan. But in late February, the Biden administration changed that rule, making millions of previously excluded businesses eligible for relief money. Recipients are required to use most of the cash to pay workers, including themselves.
After the loan requirements were relaxed, nearly every small business in America legally qualified for help. Loan recipients included white-shoe law firms, political lobbyists, anti-vaccine activists, the restaurant chains TGI Fridays and P.F. Chang’s, and companies created by sports stars such as Tom Brady and Floyd Mayweather.
Also on that list: a slew of cast members from Bachelor Nation. Tayshia Adams, who starred on “The Bachelorette” in 2020 and is now a co-host of the show after Chris Harrison’s departure, was among them. She received $20,833 in January for payroll expenses at her company, Tayshia Adams Media LLC, according to public records.
A representative for Ms. Adams did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.
The Colton Underwood Legacy Foundation — founded by Colton Underwood, a former star of “The Bachelor,” in 2019 — received an $11,355 P.P.P. loan. The organization, which assists people living with cystic fibrosis, applied for the loan after its annual fund-raiser was canceled because of the pandemic, according to Mr. Underwood’s publicist, Cindy Guagenti.
“None of the P.P.P. went directly to Colton,” Ms. Guagenti said in an email. “In fact, Colton has never received any form of payment from the foundation, all of the proceeds go directly to people living cystic fibrosis.”
In an Instagram post from Monday that has since been deleted, Mr. Underwood distanced himself from the reality TV show and explained why he received the loan.
Lauren Burnham and Arie Luyendyk Jr., a couple who met on the show and married, were funded $20,830, the maximum amount for a P.P.P. loan to a sole proprietor, through their company Instagram Husband in June 2020, according to public records. The couple have more than 200,000 subscribers on YouTube and have leaned into the influencer lifestyle after their appearance on the reality show. In April, for example, the couple posted a video tour of their freshly purchased second home in Hawaii to their YouTube account.
Records show that Dale Moss, who received the final rose on the 16th season of “The Bachelorette,” also applied for a P.P.P. loan for $20,830, according to public records. Mr. Moss’s loan was approved, but it has not been disbursed yet.
Other former “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” contestants chimed in on the loans some contestants have received. Nick Viall, who appeared on several seasons of the franchise, was critical of the loan recipients on Twitter. “What’s legal isn’t always right. What’s illegal isn’t always wrong,” he wrote.
“We’re talking about doing the right thing and I’m not trying to sound all righteous,” Mr. Viall added in a TikTok video on Wednesday. “I can’t imagine any of these people thought anyone would look. If you’re going to take public funds and you’re going to be on a public platform, you’re going to be open to criticism. It’s semantics to pretend it was the right thing to do.”
Jason Tartick, a contestant on the 14th season of “The Bachelorette,” posted a four-minute video to his Instagram account explaining why he didn’t apply for a P.P.P. loan, even though he considered it.
“I came very close to filling one out,” Mr. Tartick said in the video. “But I just thought, ‘It’s not fair.’ That was why I didn’t do it.”
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