Kentucky Gov. apologizes to Tupac Shakur over COVID-19 unemployment claim

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In this March 13, 2020 file photo, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear discusses developments in Kentucky regarding the new coronavirus in Frankfort, Ky. Beshear ordered bars and restaurant dine-in services to close in another aggressive step to contain the new coronavirus as the state reported its first death linked to the illness.(AP Photo/Bruce Schreiner)

RANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — It’s no joke — Tupac Shakur lives in Kentucky and needs unemployment benefits to pay his bills.

The Lexington man’s name was brought up by Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday night as he spoke about how the state is trying to process all unemployment claims filed in March amid the coronavirus pandemic by the end of April.

According to Beshear, a few “bad apples” including a person who filed an unemployment claim under the name of rapper Tupac Shakur — who was killed in a 1996 shooting — are responsible for slowing down the state’s unemployment processing. He blamed people who “think they’re funny” for making “thousands of other people wait” for their unemployment payments.

But the Lexington Herald-Leader reports Tupac Malik Shakur, 46, who goes by Malik, lives in Lexington and worked as a cook before restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus shut down restaurants.

He filed for unemployment March 13 and has been waiting to receive his first check.

“I’ve been struggling for like the last month trying to figure out how to pay the bills,” Shakur said.

He told the newspaper he wondered why his benefits were being held up, but did not think the labor cabinet would declare his claim was a prank.

“I’m hurt, I’m really embarrassed and I’m shocked,” Shakur said.

Beshear’s office originally said the state could not verify the identity on the application but after getting information from the newspaper, the state is working to resolve the claim.

Beshear called Shakur personally on Tuesday to apologize and Shakur said he appreciated the gesture and forgave Beshear.

“I understand, he’s dealing with a lot,” Shakur said. “Mistakes happen.”

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