Adidas “does not tolerate anti-Semitism and any other type of hate speech,” the company said in a statement, adding “Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous.”
The move comes weeks after Adidas announced it was reviewing its collaboration with Ye and his Yeezy brand, shortly after the artist sparked outrage for wearing a “WHITE” t-shirt. LIVES MATTER” during her Paris Fashion Week show. In the days that followed, he made anti-Semitic comments on Instagram and Twitter – triggering suspensions – and continued his rant on a podcast, where he doubled down on anti-Semitic tropes. In that same interview, he also falsely claimed that George Floyd, a black man killed by Minneapolis police, died from a fentanyl injection.
A leaked video earlier this month also captured him using anti-Semitic language during a interview with Tucker Carlson, Fox News host, produced by Motherboard. In it, he suggested his children learn about Hanukkah and not Kwanzaa because “at least it would come with some financial engineering.”
Ye’s comment coincides with a broader rise in anti-Semitism across the country, experts say. Anti-Defamation League Research identified 7,343 anti-Semitic incidents in 2021, a 5% jump from the previous year and a 55% increase from 2019.
Adidas’ decision to end its deal with Ye comes two days after hate groups appeared to use his stardom to advance their agendas. On Saturday, an anti-Jewish group displayed a banner on a Los Angeles overpass that read, “Honk if you know Kanye is right about Jews,” while offering Nazi salutes to oncoming traffic reverse. A photo of the incident has gone viral.
Elsewhere in California, law enforcement officials scrambled to find individuals distributing anti-Semitic fliers claiming covid-19 was a Jewish conspiracy.
Amid Ye’s scandal, former President Donald Trump posted on his Truth Social microblogging site that American Jews should be more grateful to the State of Israel, “before it’s too late.” a comment widely seen as a threat to American Jewry and a repetition of generation-old anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish dual loyalties.
The backlash against Ye has been building for weeks. Several companies, including French fashion house Balenciaga, talent agency CAA and Hollywood financier and producer MRC, have all ended their relationship with the artist.
Many celebrities and other public figures also condemned the artist’s comments and called out Adidas for continuing to do business with him. “@ADIDAS DROP KANYE WEST,” actor and director America Ferrera posted on Instagram, “this is despicable. don’t amplify this man’s influence.
On Monday, Kim Kardashian, Ye’s ex-wife, tweeted: “Hate speech is never acceptable or excusable. I stand with the Jewish community and call for an immediate end to the terrible violence and hateful rhetoric against them.”
Ye had a significant impact on Adidas, with Yeezy generating around $2 billion a year, or nearly 10% of the company’s annual revenue, said Morningstar analyst David Swartz.
The company said in its statement that the end of the relationship is expected “to have a short-term negative impact of up to €250 million on the company’s net income in 2022 given the strong seasonality of the fourth quarter”.
Ye, who has won 24 Grammy Awards and released numerous critically acclaimed platinum records, began working with Adidas in 2013. The partnership ends made Ye a billionaire and provided Adidas with a new customer base.
But Ye began airing his grievances with Adidas this summer, when he falsely accused the company to steal his designs, calling out chief executive Kasper Rorsted by name in a tweet. He took on the company again in early October, posting a 30-minute online video of a meeting with Adidas executives, whom he accused of doing “harm through the company, by the company and by the partnership”. Ye also showed the executives a pornographic film.
During an appearance on the Drink Champs podcast, Ye launched into a 10-minute rant about Jewish people and denounced Adidas’ delay in ending the partnership.
“The thing about Adidas is that I can say anti-Semitic things and Adidas can’t let me go. Now what? Now what?”
Ye’s comments presented a particularly sensitive challenge for Adidas, given the company’s history. Its founder, Adolf Dassler, was a member of the Nazi Party and equipped the Hitler Youth.
Jewish groups have urged Adidas to end its partnership with Yeezy.
“At a time of rising anti-Semitism, where incidents in the United States reached an all-time high in 2021, such statements are more than damning – they are dangerous,” wrote Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League.