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Adidas executives reportedly raised concerns about relationship with Kanye West years ago

FOX News logo FOX News 11/28/2022 Landon Mion
Adidas terminates Kanye West partnership over antisemitic rants
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Adidas' chief executive and other senior leaders at the company reportedly discussed as early as four years ago concerns about continuing the relationship with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, that they feared could implode at any moment.

During a 2018 presentation to members of the company's executive board, a group of employees that included CEO Kasper Rorsted outlined the risks employees faced by interacting with Ye, according to The Wall Street Journal. The presentation featured mitigation strategies for Adidas' relationship with Ye, including cutting ties with the Yeezy creator.

But instead of severing ties with Ye, the senior executives had business-unit leaders share various proposals with the rapper, so Adidas could keep the Yeezy partnership, which accounted for an estimated 8% of annual sales.

Ye and Adidas executives engaged in a meeting in September in which he requested more money and control over the Yeezy brand. Ye also allegedly showed the executives a clip from an adult video and accused them of stealing his designs.

ADIDAS ENDS PARTNERSHIP WITH KANYE WEST OVER ANTISEMITIC COMMENTS

The company agreed to some of Ye's demands after that meeting, including the ability to sell Yeezy footwear directly to consumers, ownership of future designs and assurances that he would receive a cut of the sales from Yeezy look-alike products. The offer would extend the partnership between the two sides through at least 2026. Ye was not satisfied, however, as he sought as much as $3 billion.

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And in October, Adidas terminated its relationship with Ye in response to several antisemitic comments made by the rapper.

Adidas said in a statement that it does not tolerate antisemitism or any other form of hate speech. 

During a 2018 presentation to members of the company's executive board, a group of employees that included CEO Kasper Rorsted outlined the risks employees faced by interacting with Ye. Edward Berthelot/GC Images © Edward Berthelot/GC Images During a 2018 presentation to members of the company's executive board, a group of employees that included CEO Kasper Rorsted outlined the risks employees faced by interacting with Ye. Edward Berthelot/GC Images

"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 read.

Earlier this month, Adidas announced the launch of an investigation into Ye's behavior after the company received an anonymous letter alleging years of misconduct by him toward Adidas staff and that company management ignored his conduct.

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Adidas terminated its relationship with Ye in response to several antisemitic comments West made on Twitter. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo © REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo Adidas terminated its relationship with Ye in response to several antisemitic comments West made on Twitter. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

The alleged conduct and the company’s attempts to hold on to Yeezy despite it were not new, according to former and current Adidas and Yeezy employees. Some employees said they raised concerns about Ye's conduct to senior Adidas leaders and human resources managers as far back as 2018.

"It is currently not clear whether the accusations made in an anonymous letter are true," Adidas said in a statement Thursday. "However, we take these allegations very seriously and have taken the decision to launch an independent investigation of the matter immediately to address the allegations."

The Wall Street Journal contributed to this report.

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