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Adidas CEO Defends Kanye West Amid Anti-Semitic Controversy

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The CEO of Adidas, Bjørn Gulden, has spoken out in defense of Kanye West following the rapper’s controversial anti-Semitic remarks last year. Gulden, 58, praised West as one of the most creative individuals globally but acknowledged the unfortunate statements that led to the termination of Adidas’ long-standing collaboration with the artist.

West, 46, made headlines when he expressed a desire to go “death con 3” on Jewish people, prompting Adidas to sever its nearly decade-long partnership with him. Following the split, the company donated a portion of the proceeds from the sale of $1.3 billion worth of unsold Yeezy shoes, which amounted to $560 million, to organizations combating anti-Semitism and hate.

Gulden’s comments came during a conversation with Nicolai Tangen, the CEO of Norges Investment Bank, which holds $500 million worth of Adidas stock. Speaking on the In Good Company podcast, Gulden acknowledged West’s extraordinary creativity, both in music and street culture. He characterized West as a creative individual who, along with Adidas, had created a highly successful Yeezy line.

Gulden expressed sadness over the termination of what he referred to as “one of the most successful collaborations in history.” Adidas had been estimated to earn around $2 billion annually from its Yeezy shoe line before the split. He emphasized that such situations can occur when working with third parties, whether athletes or entertainers, and are part of the business.

Kanye West’s anti-Semitic remarks led to a series of consequences, including a ban from Twitter and the loss of several lucrative sponsorship deals. The rapper made inflammatory statements on Twitter, where he also claimed that black people are “actually Jew also,” leading to criticism and backlash.

Gulden, in response to the break with West, sought to dispose of €1.2 billion worth of Yeezy shoes responsibly. He stated the company’s intention to carefully sell off existing Yeezy inventory rather than destroying it, enabling substantial donations to organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, the Philonise & Keeta Floyd Institute for Social Change, and Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism.

The fallout from the split with Adidas reportedly cost Kanye West approximately $1.5 billion of his estimated $2 billion fortune, removing him from Forbes’ World’s Billionaires list.

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Written by
Derek Chan – Editor

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