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‘Kanye West is a Good Person’: Adidas CEO Laments End of Lucrative Partnership with Ye

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OSLO, Norway – Bjørn Gulden, the chief executive of Adidas, expressed regret over the termination of the company’s prosperous partnership with Kanye West, now going by “Ye”.

Reflecting on the rapper’s antisemitic comments made in October 2022, Gulden said, “I don’t think he meant what he said.”

Ye’s divisive statements on social media platforms such as X (previously Twitter) and Instagram were unambiguous in their offense.

Notably, the rapper had made sweeping remarks against Jewish people and even posted controversial imagery intertwining symbols like the swastika and Star of David.

His remarks praising Adolf Hitler and the Nazis during an interview with Infowars host, Alex Jones, only intensified the public’s outrage.

Adidas promptly ended its relationship with Ye in October, citing his comments as “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous,” which directly clashed with the company’s core values. Their collaborative journey had started back in 2015.

Discussing Ye’s departure from the brand on the Norwegian podcast “In Good Company”, Gulden, as reported on Wednesday, September 20, 2023 by The Guardian, said, “I think Kanye West is one of the most creative people in the world.

And then, as creative people, he did some statements, which wasn’t that good. Very unfortunate, because I don’t think he meant what he said and I don’t think he’s a bad person – it just came across that way.”

This separation was a significant loss for both. Yeezy had contributed a staggering £1.3bn in revenue to Adidas in 2021 alone. After parting ways, Adidas was saddled with over £1bn of unsold Yeezy stock.

As a resolution, Gulden, in May, announced the unsold stock would be sold, but a “significant amount” of the earnings would be donated to organizations fighting against hate speech, such as the Anti-Defamation League, the Philonise & Keeta Floyd Institute for Social Change, and the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism.

However, concerns were raised with Ye still receiving a slice of the sales profits. Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, remarked that while Adidas’s charitable acts were “commendable”, Kanye profiting from them remained “highly problematic”.

The discontinuation of the Yeezy line played a part in Adidas’s £350m drop in sales during Q1 2023. “2023 will be a bumpy year with disappointing numbers … the loss of Yeezy [is] of course hurting us,” Gulden mentioned during the announcement of these results.

As for Ye, despite the fallout, he continues to draw media attention, especially regarding his relationship with Bianca Censori, whom he recently appeared with at London fashion week.

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