FRANKFORT, Ky. -- 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."
Roughly 26 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the five weeks since the coronavirus outbreak began forcing millions of employers to close their doors. About one in six American workers have lost their jobs in the past five weeks, by far the worst string of layoffs on record. That's more than the number of people who live in the 10 largest U.S. cities combined.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Coronavirus: Tupac Shakur called out by Kentucky governor for unemployment claim amid COVID-19 pandemic
It's no joke - Tupac Shakur lives in Kentucky and needs unemployment benefits to pay his bills.