Adidas Breaks Ties With Kanye West Amid Mounting Pressure Over His Antisemitic Comments

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By Philissa Cramer

(JTA) — The athletic wear company Adidas is ending its relationship with Kanye West, days after the rapper boasted that he could “literally say antisemitic s— and they cannot drop me.”

The brand had faced growing criticism of its continued relationship with West, who is known as Ye, as other brands affiliated with West broke ties with him. Adidas reportedly brings in $2 billion a year through its Yeezy brand, accounting for about 10% of the company’s revenue.

Now, the brand will stop making Yeezy products and stop all payments to West and his companies, Adidas announced in a statement on Tuesday. The company said it expected to lose up to $250 million in revenue in the next three months, in part because of the onset of the holiday season.

“Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort 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 the statement. “After a thorough review, the company has taken the decision to terminate the partnership with Ye immediately.”

The decision came shortly after a U.S.-based marketing executive at the German company criticized her employer for not acting in response to the antisemitism espoused by West, who vowed on social media to “go death con 3 on Jewish people” earlier this month. 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.”

The brand had announced weeks ago that it was putting its West ties “under review” but had said nothing publicly since. Pressure increased after West seemed to revel in his imperviousness last week on the podcast.

A number of other major brands have cut ties with West since his original posting and in the wake of subsequent tirades against Jews. Twitter and Instagram shut down his accounts. The fashion tastemakers Balenciaga and Vogue have announced they will no longer be working with him. Hollywood talent giant CAA has dropped him, and a planned documentary about him has been scrapped. His ex-wife and the mother of their children, the major influence Kim Kardashian, took to social media to condemn antisemitism, albeit without naming West,

Neo-Nazi groups used West’s words to go after Jews, unveiling an antisemitic billboard in Los Angeles that was condemned by the White House Monday.

Camhi wrote that Adidas had not addressed West’s antisemitism internally to employees either.

“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.”

Camhi, whose LinkedIn account says she has worked at Adidas since June 2019, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Adidas said in its announcement that it expected the decision to result in a short-term loss for the company, which has already been struggling. It also said that it retains ownership over past designs in the Yeezy line and would share more in a call with company stakeholders next month.

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