He'd said Adidas 'cannot drop me' despite 'antisemitic shit'

Under pressure, Adidas cuts ties with Kanye West for ‘dangerous’ antisemitic remarks

After review, German sportswear giant announces it is ending partnership with US rapper, calling his comments ‘hateful’; says its bottom line will be hit

Kanye West, second from right, makes final rounds before the showing of the Kanye West Adidas Fall 2015 collection at Fashion Week in New York, Feb. 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Kanye West, second from right, makes final rounds before the showing of the Kanye West Adidas Fall 2015 collection at Fashion Week in New York, Feb. 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Adidas has ended its partnership with the rapper formerly known as Kanye West over his offensive and antisemitic remarks, becoming the latest company to cut ties with him in a decision that the German sportwear company said would hit its bottom line.

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

The company faced pressure to cut ties with West, with celebrities and others on social media urging Adidas to act. It said at the beginning of the month that it was placing its lucrative sneaker deal with the rapper under review.

Adidas said Tuesday that it had conducted a “thorough review” and would immediately stop production of its line of Yeezy products and stop payments to West and his companies. The sportswear company said it was expected to take a hit of up to 250 million euros ($246 million) to its net income in the next three months, in part because of the onset of the holiday season.

The decision came shortly after a US-based marketing executive at the German company criticized her employer for not acting in response to the antisemitism espoused by West. It was the latest in mounting public pressure on the company, whose founders were Nazis and which produced weapons for the Nazis during World War II.

“As a member of the Jewish community, I can no longer stay silent on behalf of the brand that employs me,” Sarah Camhi, a director of trade marketing, wrote on LinkedIn on Monday night. “Not saying anything, is saying everything.”

An injured member of the Memphis Grizzlies wears a pair of Adidas “Yeezys” while looking on against the Denver Nuggets in the second half of an NBA basketball game February 29, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

“We have dropped Adidas athletes for using steroids and being difficult to work with but are unwilling to denounce hate speech, the perpetuation of dangerous stereotypes and blatant racism by one of our top brand partners,” she wrote.

“We need to do better as a brand. We need to do better for our employees and we need to do better for our communities. Until Adidas takes a stand, I will not stand with Adidas.”

The move by Adidas, whose CEO Kasper Rorsted is stepping down next year, comes after West was suspended from Twitter and Instagram this month over antisemitic posts that the social networks said violated their policies.

West, who goes by Ye, has been embroiled in controversy ever since Balenciaga’s Paris Fashion Week show earlier this month, during which he debuted a line of “White Lives Matter” shirts. The controversial slogan has been described by the ADL as a “white supremacist phrase.”

Since then, the rapper and fashion mogul has unleashed a slew of antisemitism across social media and in news interviews, including vowing to go “death con 3 on Jewish people” and claiming that he is the target of a “Jewish underground media mafia.”

He recently suggested slavery was a choice and called the COVID-19 vaccine the “mark of the beast,” among other comments.

Kanye West on the “Drink Champs” podcast, October 16, 2022. (Youtube screenshot, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Amid the controversy, West appeared on the popular podcast “Drink Champs” and bragged that he could maintain his Adidas partnership no matter how many antisemitic things he said.

“The thing about it being Adidas is like, I can literally say antisemitic shit and they cannot drop me,” he said. “Now what?”

His talent agency, CAA, has dropped him, and the MRC studio announced Monday that it is shelving a complete documentary about the rapper.

The Balenciaga fashion house cut ties with him last week, according to Women’s Wear Daily. JPMorganChase and West have ended their business relationship, although the banking breakup was in the works even before his antisemitic comments.

In recent weeks, West also has ended his company’s association with Gap and has told Bloomberg that he plans to cut ties with his corporate suppliers.

After he was suspended from Twitter and Facebook, West offered to buy conservative social network Parler.

Antisemites at a banner over LA freeway declaring ‘Kanye is right about the Jews’ (Oren Segal, via Twitter / used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Demonstrators on a Los Angeles overpass Saturday unfurled a banner praising the rapper’s antisemitic comments, prompting an outcry on social media from celebrities and others who said they stand with Jewish people.

In Germany, where Adidas is headquartered, the head of the country’s main Jewish group welcomed the company’s decision but said the “step was overdue.”

“I would have liked a clear stance earlier from a German company that also was entangled with the Nazi regime,” Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said in a statement. “Adidas has done a lot to distance itself from its past and, like many sports brands, is one of those companies that conduct big campaigns against antisemitism and racism. That’s why an earlier separation from Kanye West would have been appropriate.”

JTA and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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