Herschel Walker Blasts Student Loan Forgiveness — Despite Benefiting from Massive Forgivable Loans Himself

August 30, 2022

“11Alive previously reported that U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker’s food services company, Renaissance Man, got PPP loans totaling more than $182,000 — and that the government forgave almost all of it.”

GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker is under scrutiny for blasting student loan forgiveness while receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in forgivable federal loans himself. 11Alive verified this week that despite having “hammered” student loan forgiveness, Walker’s own company “got PPP loans totaling more than $182,000, and that the government forgave almost all of it.” 

Earlier this year, 11Alive reported that Walker “ridiculed” businesses who took the loans, despite sitting on the board of a company that accepted nearly $10 million in PPP loans and then laid off 90% of its employees the very next day. 

11Alive VERIFY: Have some critics of student loan forgiveness plan benefited from similar programs? Their companies certainly did.
Doug Richards, 8/26/22

  • Doug Richards: “Viewers asked us to verify: did some Georgia politicians critical of the President’s program to forgive student loans themselves benefit from similar federal loan forgiveness? “
  • “11Alive previously reported that U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker’s food services company, Renaissance Man, got PPP loans totaling more than $182,000 — and that the government forgave almost all of it.” 
  • “So did these politicians benefit from government loan forgiveness? We can verify that their companies certainly did.”

11Alive: Herschel Walker mocked businesses that took PPP money, even though he used it himself: report
Doug Richards, 1/28/22

  • U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker had business interests that took government bailout money during the early stages of the pandemic, records show. Yet, on Twitter, Walker has also ridiculed businesses that took such money.
  • When the COVID pandemic all but shut down the economy, hotels were among the first to lose business. When the government came up with the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, hotels got a share of it.
  • One company benefiting was the Sotherly Hotel Group, which includes Atlanta’s historic Georgian Terrace, across from the Fox Theatre, and a dozen other upscale hotels from Philadelphia to Houston.
  • In April 2020, the government reported Sotherly got two PPP loans totaling more than $9.7 million while, at the same time, laying off 90% of its hotel staff, according to documents the company filed with the government. 
  • Sotherly accepted the government’s help at a time when one of its board members was urging big companies to turn it away. That board member was Herschel Walker, now running for the U.S. Senate in Georgia.
  • At that time, Walker was a Texas resident and a bit of a presence on politically conservative sites like Fox News. Just a few days before Sotherly got the PPP money, Walker on Twitter mocked “big companies (that) are giving back their PPP money…. Maybe they felt embarrassed (or) ashamed,” wrote Walker, before he launched his senate race.
  • Sotherly has paid Walker $247,227 the last six years, according to stock disclosure statements filed with the government. 
  • “Because of that lifeline, a lot of businesses were saved,” said Adam Harrell, who runs a marketing company in Atlanta that also took PPP money.
  • “There’s was (a) level of hypocrisy shown when you criticize it and hey, you were part of a company. You serve on a board. You took the money. But instead of saving people’s jobs, you laid people off,” Harrell said.
  • In a statement, Walker’s campaign said “Herschel’s tweet was referring to multi-billion dollar corporations that took multi-million dollar loans, which were clearly meant to keep small businesses afloat.”
  • Since he retired as an athlete, Walker also founded a food company. Walker’s face is on the home page of Renaissance Man Food Services, based in the central Georgia town of Dublin.
  • In April 2020, Walker told the Atlanta Business Chronicle he was “not relying on PPP or the government to save his chicken business,” according to the article’s headline. But a few weeks later, Walker’s company likewise benefited from two payments totaling $182,800 in PPP money, most of which the government has forgiven, according to a ProPublica tracking site. 
  • Walker’s campaign issued a statement:
  • “Like thousands of other small businesses, Renaissance Man Food Services took PPP funding to keep staff on payroll.” 
  • Walker declined an interview request with 11Alive – something he has done consistently since he began his Senate campaign last year.


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