It’s only January, and Walmart has already made it onto Santa’s naughty list.
A portion of an $80,000 gift from Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack to pay off customers’ active layaway accounts ahead of the Christmas holiday last year was mishandled, a spokesperson for the retail giant said Tuesday. The generous donation, made through Mack’s foundation, helped dozens of families in his hometown of Fort Pierce, Florida.
Treasure Coast News was the first to report Walmart’s goof, with company representative Delia Garcia telling the outlet it took “corrective action” after determining the store “didn’t handle the transaction in keeping with Walmart’s guidelines.”
According to the report, an internal investigation found that after the Fort Pierce store’s layaways totaled just $60,000, management allowed workers to use the remaining $20,000 to put items on layaway for themselves.
Walmart officials learned of the violation after an angry employee who was left out blew the whistle, local outlet FOX 32 reported.
No one involved in the scandal has been identified so far, but several managers and employees were suspended as the retailer investigated the use of Mack’s donation.
After the TCPalm report, Garcia clarified that while the store’s transaction was “flawed,” employees did not “misuse” the donation after all. She added that a representative from Mack’s foundation — not the foundation itself — knew and approved of employees benefiting from the footballer’s donation, which covered over 300 layaway accounts.
It’s unclear if Walmart employees will face discipline over the incident, or if Mack, 28, had knowledge of how the money was being spent.
The Fort Pierce Westwood High School alum played secret Santa to families back in his hometown, asking not to be recognized for his donation. But the good news soon spread after his generous gift provided plenty of Christmas cheer.
With his foundation, Mack said he hopes to “positively affect the lives of intercity and under-privileged youths and families by providing for the community.” The pro athlete was picked up by the Oakland Raiders in the 2014 NFL draft then traded to the Chicago Bears a few years later.
He’s had many notable accomplishments throughout his career, including being named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2016.
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