• November 30, 2022

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Topline

Sportswear giant Adidas on Tuesday announced it has cut ties with rapper Kanye West, also known as Ye, over a series of offensive and anti-Semitic remarks, the latest company to distance itself from the star as his increasingly controversial behavior courts outrage and criticism.

Key Facts

The German sports firm said it is immediately severing its partnership with West, whose legal name is Ye, after reviewing its relationship with the musician.

West’s recent comments and behavior are “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous” and not in line with the company’s values of diversity, inclusion, respect and fairness, Adidas said.

Adidas said it will stop its Yeezy business with immediate effect, end the production of Yeezy branded products and stop all payments to West and his businesses.

The firm said it expects to take a short-term hit of $246 million for the decision.

Key Background

Adidas is West’s most prominent business partner and it joins a string of other companies cutting ties with the rapper, including fashion house Balenciaga, studio MRC and talent agency CAA. The corporate backlash follows weeks of West making anti-Semitic remarks, conspiracy theories and criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement. His behavior sparked widespread criticism from the public, celebrities and civil rights groups and the family of George Floyd, who West falsely claimed died due to fentanyl, have announced plans to sue the rapper for $250 million over his comments. West was blocked from posting on Instagram and Twitter after numerous anti-Semitic remarks, after which he announced plans to purchase Parler, a self-proclaimed “free speech” alternative to Twitter.

Big Number

$220 million. That’s how much Adidas pays West each year, according to Forbes’ estimates. The sportswear company has distributed the rapper’s Yeezy brand since 2013 and the partnership is responsible for a large portion of West’s wealth.

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Forbes Valuation

$2 billion. That’s Ye’s estimated net worth, according to Forbes’ real time tracker. Given the value of West’s deal with Adidas—an estimated $1.5 billion—the rapper’s status as a billionaire is now at risk.

What To Watch For

Adidas shares fell by nearly 4% after the company announced it was dropping Ye, falling to their lowest levels since 2016.

Tangent

West has been open about his diagnosis with bipolar disorder in the past. The rapper’s erratic behavior in recent weeks has shone light on the condition, which can cause volatile and sometimes extreme mood swings, and there has been speculation it could help explain West’s actions. In a state of mania or hypomania, a person with bipolar disorder may be less thoughtful about what they say or do, could make rash or risky decisions and might experience grand delusions. The condition can be largely controlled through therapy and medication, though Ye has previously said he has a complicated relationship with medication. There is no way to know whether West’s mental health is linked to his recent comments and behavior and the artist has previously criticized those who dismiss what he has to say based on his mental illness.

Further Reading

Kanye West’s Anti-Semitic, Controversial Behavior—Here’s Everything He’s Said In Recent Weeks (Forbes)

What does bipolar disorder feel like? Can it explain Kanye’s behavior? (Washington Post)

What’s Eating Kanye West? Leaving Adidas Would Drop The Volatile Superstar From Billionaire Status (Forbes)

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