The owner of the Houston Rockets, businessman Tilman Feritta, He met on Monday night with the president of United States, Donald Trump, and valued the state of the restaurant industry and also the plans of the possible return from NBA competition.

05/19/2020 at 11:52

CEST

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Feritta, as president of the company Landry’s Inc., during a meeting of restaurant industry executives held at the White House expressed his optimism that the NBA season will resume this summer, while acknowledging that the coronavirus pandemic put your business “low minimum”.

Billionaire CEO of Landry’s Inc., a large restaurant chain, asked President Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, to “add a category” to the “Biggest Private Restorer” Paycheck Protection Program and to “do something about the end of leases” to provide relief to your company during the pandemic.

The 62-year-old Texan businessman explained that he had to lay off 40,000 employees of his full-service restaurant chain in March and that he had recently borrowed $ 300 million at 12 percent interest because he “needed liquidity.” that would allow him to keep the company afloat.

Last month, Los Angeles Lakers applied for and received a $ 4.6 million loan of dollars through PPP, which was administered by the Small Business Administration and was intended to assist companies with fewer than 500 employees.

The Lakers, which Forbes valued this year at $ 4.4 billion, returned the funds, but were widely criticized for their request.

Fertitta told Trump that he had also requested and received PPP funds. for Landry’s, but he also returned it and did not spend a dollar, because he had been criticized for the layoffs and was concerned that he would be perceived as “a billionaire who took money from the small business.” For his part, Munchin said qualifying for the PPP was “a complicated matter.”

“We do not anticipate that the Los Angeles Lakers, of whom I am a huge fan, took a PPP loan,” he added. “As a result of that, there was a lot of backlash. We realized the problem, how it affects its workers, and we are understanding of that. This was a program for companies that were not that big.”

As Fertitta presented his case, Trump interrupted with questions about plans to return to the NBA and about the Rockets., whom he called “a great team” with “two great players” at the base Russell Westbrook and guard James Harden.

“I think what they are doing is waiting to see what happens in certain states and if we are going to be able to play,” he said. Fertitta when asked if the NBA planned to resume competition after indefinitely suspending the season on March 11. “Making sure the virus continues in the right direction for the next few weeks. If things continue like this, I think the NBA, Commissioner Adam Silver, who has done an amazing job through this, and the 30 owners will take the decision to try to compete again. “

Fertitta He added that the league was considering playing a few games in the regular season before proceeding to the playoffs.

“I think we would play a few games to get it going again and create interest,” said the Rockets’ owner. “Then go straight to the playoffs.”

Fertitta He noted that “it would be great for the United States.” “We all lack sports. Everyone wants to see these great teams.”

The NBA and the players ‘union announced last month that 25 percent of players’ wages would be withheld during the shutdown, which begins May 15, and the league is expected to lose more than $ 1 billion in revenue. if the season cannot be resumed.

Fertitta stressed that the players “need to compete to get paid” and that the owners of the league “want that income” from television games, even if they are without spectators.

Under the questioning of Trump, Fertitta reported that Westbrook and Harden have annual salaries approaching $ 40 million. .

Fertitta, who in 2017 bought the Rockets from Leslie Alexander for $ 2.2 billion, but now he faces serious financial problems with his restaurant business.

Trump He also showed interest regarding the Rockets general manager, Daryl Morey, who sparked a long-running controversy over the NBA and China when he posted a message of support for Hong Kong protesters to his Twitter account in October.

The Chinese government and companies retaliated by stopping televising NBA games and breaking business ties with the Rockets.

The Chinese government and companies retaliated by stopping televising NBA games and breaking business ties with the Rockets. Trump recalled the “controversy” and asked if Morey, who joined the Rockets in 2006, was still employed. When Fertitta confirmed yes, Trump said Morey “must be pretty good.”

“It is a trick question,” he replied. Fertitta. “But it is”.

“It’s funny that he talks about China. I knew it was going to be a bad year for China ever since my GM tweeted about ‘Freedom for Hong Kong’. That started my year with China and I’m still trying to work on it, “joked the Rockets owner to close his appearance with the President of the United States.

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