Talk about squashing consumer confidence.
Despite receiving $28.4 billion in federal taxpayer bailout funds, JPMorgan Chase and American Express sponsored a weeklong professional squash tournament in New York last month at the same time lawmakers were denouncing wasteful Wall Street spending.
The weeklong event — the Tournament of Champions — was held Jan. 23-29 at Grand Central Terminal and sold roughly 4,500 tickets. The tournament's see-through court attracted thousands more passers-by and commuters who caught a glimpse of one of the "world's premier squash championships," according to tournament director John Nimick.
Representatives at JPMorgan Chase declined to specify exactly how much it spent on the sponsorship, but a source close to the matter said it was roughly $100,000. American Express officials also declined to provide an exact amount, but the company is believed to have spent roughly $25,000, according to the source.
Some critics said the sponsorship for the elite event was a waste of money — especially for corporations that are getting federal bailout money.
"It's frustrating for the average American taxpayer to see corporations who received federal bailout funding to be spending money on events like this," David Williams, vice president of policy for Citizens Against Governmental Waste, told FOXNews.com. "It's not a huge dollar amount, but [it] sends a strong signal that while people are sacrificing, corporations aren't."
Added Williams: "If they truly want to show good will and increase their market share, they shouldn't market events like this and say, 'We're all in this together and we're going through this together.'"
JPMorgan Chase and American Express defended their participation in the event.
"We're being vigilant to all costs, sponsorships included," JPMorgan Chase spokesman Brian Marchiony told FOXNews.com. "We constantly evaluate events as they come up for renewal."
Marchiony said JPMorgan Chase "inherited" the sponsorship from Bear Stearns, which was sold to JPMorgan Chase last March for roughly $236 million, or $2 per share. He said an unspecified portion of the money goes to benefit StreetSquash and CitySquash, programs aimed at helping at-risk youths.
Joanna Lambert, vice president of American Express' public affairs, said the tournament was a "very minor" sponsorship for the company, which has not committed to the event for next year.
"This sponsorship was a great opportunity to reach our corporate clients who engage in this sport and an opportunity to get some visibility at a high-profile New York event at Grand Central station," Lambert said.
Nimick said agreements with the tournament's 12 partners are confidential. He said all sponsorships are considered on a yearly basis.
"There is no commitment for the title sponsorship for JPMorgan beyond this year," Nimick said. "We start from scratch and we'll present them the chance to stay with the tournament next year."