(The Center Square) – Sin City has no shortage of milestones that have suffered greatly amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and according to installments from a federal grant program intended to help them and their employees, a significant portion went to a handful of wealthy magicians.
The United States Small Business Administration Subsidy for operators of closed sites distributed more than $16 billion nationally. In Nevada, 206 entities have been promised more than $193 million in two rounds of grants.
The list of companies reflects Nevada’s flashy entertainment industry. Winners include a high-flying trapeze act, exclusive nightclubs, dance troupes, festivals and more.
Four organizations received the maximum $10 million allocated; Vegas mainstay David Copperfield’s Disappearing Inc. is one. The business entity of the magician duo Penn and Teller has received more than $7.5 million.
Illusionist Criss Angel’s Magic Revolution not only received $6,964,936, but his production house, Angel Productions Worldwide, received $6,502,920 through a separate grant. Angel, real name Christopher Sarantakos, is worth around $50 million.
Also among the state’s top 10 recipients is Meleco Records, the Incline Village recording label owned by Beach Boy founder Mike Love. The musician is said to be worth $80 million. Meleco received $7,517,320.
According to the granting criteria, magicians and others seem to qualify under the category “operator or promoter of a live broadcast venue”. Recurring acts such as Copperfield and others have large organizations working behind the scenes to ensure that stage shows go off without a hitch.
Applicants are eligible to receive 45% of their 2019 gross earnings up to $10 million per grant. To be eligible for the grant, businesses had to have been open on February 29, 2020. Any Federal Paycheck Protection Program loans that businesses had canceled would have to be subtracted from the grant total.
The first ten recipients in Nevada:
• $10 million: Brenden Theater Corporation;
• $10 million: Disappearing Inc. by David Copperfield;
• $10 million: Life Is Beautiful LLC (an annual festival held in Las Vegas);
• $10 million: The Smith Center for the Performing Arts;
• $7.6 million: Steve Beyer Productions Inc. (a promoter of cover bands and the like);
• $7.52 million: Meleco LLC (the record label of Beach Boy member Mike Love);
• $7.3 million: Buggs & Rudy Discount Corp. (Penn and Teller);
• $7.15 million: MB BC Limited Liability Company (a Las Vegas nightclub);
• $6.96 million: Magic Revolution LLC (Criss Angel, which also received another $6.5 million grant);
• $6.88 million: Galaxy Sparks LLC (a movie theater chain).