“Unacceptable, hateful and dangerous”: Adidas drops Kanye West while others also distance themselves

The sportswear company severs its nearly 10-year relationship with West after the rapper’s increasing antisemitism

By Alison Stine

Staff Writer

Published October 25, 2022 4:40PM (EDT)

Kanye West at Milk Studios on June 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for ADIDAS)
Kanye West at Milk Studios on June 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for ADIDAS)

Adidas has cut ties with Kanye West following the rapper and designer's repeated antisemitic comments. As The New York Times reported, this severance is ending "what may have been the most significant corporate fashion partnership" of West's career and comes after a series of disturbing public outbursts and statements from West.

On social media, West's comments included a Twitter post alleging that he would soon support "death con 3 ON JEWISH PEOPLE," which later caused Twitter and Instagram to restrict his account. This fall at Paris Fashion Week, West wore a shirt that read "White Lives Matter," a slogan of white supremacists, which is hate speech as identified by the Anti-Defamation League. 

West's comments and public statements have had a ripple effect. In widely shared photographs, people raised their arms in a Nazi salute on a Los Angeles freeway on Sunday. The people stood behind several banners they had hung over Interstate 405, reading, "Kanye is right about the Jews." Another banner included a link to a video platform for streaming antisemitic content, the website of a hate organization which the nonprofit StopAntisemitism.org said was responsible for hanging the banners. A third banner included the message "Honk if you know." The group also hung an American flag.

On Monday, Variety reported that West was dropped by his agency, Creative Artists Agency (CAA). A documentary about West that is already completed will also be shelved, according to studio executives Modi Wiczyk, Asif Satchu and Scott Tenley who said in a statement, "Last week [West] sampled and remixed a classic tune that has charted for over 3,000 years — the lie that Jews are evil and conspire to control the world for their own gain." The studio executives appeared to be addressing companies that still backed West at the time as their statement continued, "The silence from leaders and corporations when it comes to Kanye or antisemitism in general is dismaying but not surprising. What is new and sad, is the fear Jews have about speaking out in their own defense."

The partnership with West, who also goes by the name Ye, and sportswear giant Adidas was long and lucrative, lasting for nearly a decade. The New York Times reported that dropping West will cost Adidas $246 million this year alone. In a public statement, Adidas said the company "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 statement also said the production of West's Yeezy-branded items would cease immediately, as would payments to West.

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Many public figures acted quickly to distance themselves from West and his antisemitic comments, including West's ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, who wrote on Twitter, "Hate speech is never OK or excusable. I stand together with the Jewish community and call on the terrible violence and hateful rhetoric towards them to come to an immediate end."

The Anti-Defamation League in Southern California tweeted, "Hate has no place in Los Angeles or elsewhere and these attempts will not divide us."


By Alison Stine

Alison Stine is a former staff writer at Salon. She is the author of the novels "Trashlands" and "Road Out of Winter," winner of the 2021 Philip K. Dick Award. A recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), she has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, and others.

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Adidas Antisemitism Brief Hate Speech Jewish Kanye West Music Sneakers Sports