Adidas said on Tuesday that it is cutting ties with Ye, the artist and fashion designer formerly known as Kanye West, following a series of antisemitic comments made in recent weeks.
Ye’s nearly decade-long partnership with the German sportswear giant helped make the rap superstar a billionaire and vaulted his Yeezy branded sneakers to a global audience.
Following growing pressure on Adidas to drop Ye, the company announced that it does not tolerate antisemitism or other types of hate speech.
“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,” the company said in a statement.
Adidas will no longer produce Yeezy products and stop payments to Ye and his companies, according to Adidas, which estimated that the decision is expected to hit its net income by nearly $250 million in 2022.
The company is the latest to isolate Ye in the wake of a string of incendiary remarks, including that slavery was a choice and a leaked interview between Ye and Fox News host Tucker Carlson, in which he said, “I’d prefer my kids knew Chanukah than Kwanzaa, at least it would come with some financial engineering.”
Adidas had been reviewing its partnership with Ye since he wore a “White Lives Matter” shirt at Paris Fashion Week. The Anti-Defamation League considers the slogan, which has been embraced by white supremacists, a symbol of hate speech.
As the company examined its ties to Ye last week, the ADL asked in a letter, “what more do you need to review?”
Jonathan Greenblatt, who leads the ADL, said in a statement on Tuesday that Adidas’ action “sends a powerful message that antisemitism and bigotry have no place in society.”
The controversy brings attention to Adidas founder’s Nazi ties
The attention also renewed scrutiny on the history of Adidas.
Brothers Adolf and Rudolf Dassler started manufacturing footwear, including spiked shoes, in Bavaria during the 1920s, becoming the shoe of choice of the Nazis.
In 1933, they both joined the Nazi party and during World War II, their factory was converted into a munitions plant for the war effort.
Then U.S. sprinter Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin wearing a pair of track spikes from the Dassler brothers, launching the brothers’ shoes to international fame.
An acrimonious rift between the two led to a split: Adolf Dassler, known as Adi, founded Adidas in 1949. And his brother, who went by Rudi, around the same time started rival shoemaker Puma.
Under German law, inciting hatred against people of a certain race or religion, including denying the Holocaust and spreading Nazi propaganda, is criminalized and can be punishable with prison time.
Publicly displaying a Swastika in the country is also outlawed and can result in prosecution.
As Ye continues to be squeezed, he eyes his own ‘Yecosystem’
Twitter and Instagram suspended Ye earlier this month after making antisemitic posts, including a post on Twitter threating to go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.”
In response to the social media companies locking down his accounts, Ye announced that he was purchasing the conservative-friendly Twitter knock-off company Parler, in a move that puzzled tech observers. Details of the transaction have yet to be made public.
Adidas moving away from Ye is his latest fallout in the business world since he began unleashing his inflammatory comments. The Balenciaga fashion house has ended its relationship with him and Hollywood talent agency Creative Artists Agency also dumped him.
Production studio MRC said on Monday that it is shelving a finished documentary on Ye upon reviewing his recent antisemitic remarks,
“We cannot support any content that amplifies his platform,” company executives said in a statement.
Ye has not responded to the Adidas breakup.
The rapper has said he intends to build his own “Yecosystem,” which would include his own factories and retail stores as a way of fully separating himself from the corporate world.