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Adidas Cuts Ties With Kanye West After Anti-Semitic Remarks

Kanye West Oyafestivalen 2011
Adidas cuts ties with Kanye West after rapper’s anti-Semitic remarks and other controversial comments about George Floyd’s death. Credit: NRK P3 CC BY NC-SA 2.0 / Flickr

Adidas is finally cutting ties with Kanye West following anti-Semitic remarks and offensive behavior from the rapper and designer that turned a once-thriving shoe brand into a lightning rod for criticism.

The German athletic brand said the decision to end production of Yeezy branded products and stop all payments to Kanye, now legally known as Ye, and his companies “immediately” came after a “thorough review.”

Adidas, which began its partnership with Ye in 2013, said in a statement, “Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”

“Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

An earlier story by Bloomberg News was confirmed when the German sports company said that it would take a 250 million euro—about 246 million USD—hit to net income in the current fiscal year.

Kanye’s Anti-Semitic Remarks Affecting His Brand and Businesses

Ye went on to cause more controversy by donning a shirt that said “White Lives Matter” during Paris Fashion Week. Adidas therefore said it was reassessing its relationship with Ye.

He was additionally locked out of his Twitter and Instagram accounts amid backlash from consumers and celebrities for anti-Semitic posts. There was a call for people to boycott Adidas products until the partnership has been canceled.

In response to the singer’s controversies, corporate partners—Gap Inc., Kering SA’s Balenciaga fashion label, and talent agency CAA—of the rapper prematurely cut ties with him even before Adidas did so. NBC News has contacted Ye’s publicist for comment.

Kanye’s Partnership With Adidas Has Been a Success

Over the past decade, Adidas has—together with Ye—built the Yeezy line into a brand that’s accounted for as much as eight percent of Adidas’s total sales, according to several estimates from Wall Street analysts.

Earlier this month, Adidas called the partnership “one of the most successful collaborations in our industry’s history” and said it would continue co-managing Yeezy products during its review.

The German company is of the view that it owns the intellectual property rights to the products from the collaboration and could continue producing the models, a spokesperson said.

The Success Brought Acrimony Between Kanye and Adidas

Ye has accused Adidas of copying his ideas and mismanaging the brand. He taunted outgoing Chief Executive Officer Kasper Rørsted on social media.

Adidas revealed it has repeatedly tried and failed to privately resolve issues with Ye.

In September, the rapper announced his plans to negotiate with Adidas to get a twenty percent royalty on all the shoes he has designed with the company in perpetuity.

Already weighed down by the controversy, Adidas shares that it fell as much as 3.2 percent in early Frankfurt trading, reaching its lowest point since April 2016.

ADL Praised Kanye and Adidas Break-up

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of The Anti-Defamation League applauded the announcement saying, “This is a very positive outcome. It illustrates that antisemitism is unacceptable and creates consequences.”

“Without a doubt, Adidas has done the right thing by cutting ties with Ye after his vicious anti-Semitic rants,” he said, noting that thousands of people sent emails, celebrities spoke up, and prominent brands cut ties with the artist as part of the campaign decrying Ye’s comments.

“Adidas’ action sends a powerful message that antisemitism and bigotry have no place in society,” Greenblatt added.

Adidas in Economic Trouble After Kanye’s Controversies

Adidas is searching for a new CEO to take over in 2023. The company has lowered its earnings forecast several times this year amid falling demand for its shoes and apparel in China and growing signs of economic trouble in Europe and North America.

The decision comes after an anti-Semitic hate group was accused of hanging a banner over a Los Angeles freeway on Saturday. The banner read: “Kanye is right about the Jews.” The message was condemned by a slew of local politicians, social media users, and celebrities.

Ye’s ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, tweeted on Monday that she pledged to “stand together with the Jewish community and call on the terrible violence and hateful rhetoric towards them to come to an immediate end.” She did not, however, mention either Ye or Adidas in the tweet.

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