Kanye West, a rapper, fashion designer, and entrepreneur, has been making a lot of anti-Semitic comments on social media and in national media for the past few weeks. He challenged Adidas to drop him a few days ago.
“I can say anti-Semitic crap and Adidas can’t drop me,” the rapper, whose legal name is now “Ye,” said earlier this month on the Drink Champs podcast. Ye thought he couldn’t be stopped because he had been working with Adidas since 2013 to make his Yeezy line of very expensive and very popular shoes. Cowen, an investment bank, says that between 4% and 8% of Adidas’ sales come from Yeezy products. For Ye, it was even more important because it added $1.5 billion to his total wealth.
But Ye’s words put the German sportswear company in the hot seat because its founders were also Nazis. After that, there was even more pressure on Adidas to cut ties with Ye, as his string of antisemitic comments were criticized by the most important people in Hollywood. Adidas didn’t say anything for weeks, but on October 6, they said that their partnership with Ye was “under review.”
The pressure on Adidas grew after a picture of a banner on a Los Angeles highway overpass that said “Kanye was right about the Jews” and showed a group of white supremacists giving the Nazi salute to drivers below was made public over the weekend. The white supremacists were probably talking about Ye’s tweet that said “death con 3 on Jewish people.” Ye’s Twitter account was locked because of this tweet, and other anti-Semitic comments got him blocked on Instagram. Hundreds of thousands of people on social media called for Adidas to also drop Ye.
Adidas finally broke its silence on October 25 and said that the relationship was over. That move will cost them a lot of money, but it will cost Ye even more, taking him right out of the billionaire club.
“Adidas does not stand for antisemitism or any other kind of hate speech. Ye’s recent comments and actions are unacceptable, hateful, and dangerous. They also go against the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect, and fairness, the company said in a press release. “After a careful review, the company has decided to end its partnership with Ye right away, stop making products with the Yeezy brand, and stop paying Ye and his companies. Adidas will stop doing business with Adidas Yeezy right away.”
Ye is no longer a billionaire now that he has lost that.
It’s the end of a shocking, self-inflicted fall for one of the most brash and volatile people to ever appear in Forbes (and a magazine cover). Ye did not respond to request for comment.
The Adidas deal was worth $1.5 billion because it was a multiple of the company’s annual earnings. Forbes thought that the royalties Ye got from Adidas were like royalties from music catalogs or film residuals based on interviews with people in the business. These experts said that the Adidas income stream could be sold off, just like dozens of musicians, like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, have done over the past two years.
Ye is worth $400 million without Adidas. Forbes says that the rest of Ye’s wealth comes from real estate, cash, his music catalog, and a 5% share in Kim Kardashian’s shapewear company, Skims. (A person close to Skims told Forbes that Ye hasn’t had anything to do with the brand since it came out in 2019.)
Ye’s removal from the Billionaires list ends a long battle between the rapper and Forbes that has gone on for years. Ye always thought that his net worth was too low. Ye wasn’t happy when he first made the list in 2020, when he was worth an estimated $1 billion. He texted us at the time, “It’s not a billion.” Since no one at Forbes knows how to count, it’s $3.3 billion.
This happened every year, and Ye kept complaining about how few people we had. Ye sent documents for this year’s valuation that said his deal with Adidas was worth $4.3 billion on its own. Ye’s displeasure with Forbes got into the tabloids when he found out his total worth would be $2 billion. Losing Adidas was the last thing that killed Ye’s net worth. In September, GapGPS +1.7% ended its deal with Yeezy. Ye was reportedly kicked out of JPMorgan earlier this month. Balenciaga broke up with Ye on October 21, just a few weeks after he walked the runway for them at Paris Fashion Week.
Ye’s talent agency, CAA, dropped him after his production company, MRC, said it wouldn’t air a finished documentary about him.
When news of their Yeezy collaboration came out in 2013, they had been working together for a while. Since then, Ye has been in conflict with Taylor Swift, his former record label Universal Music Group, and most recently Kim Kardashian and her then-boyfriend, SNL alum Pete Davidson, on social media. The road has come to an end. (There’s always a chance Ye could relaunch Yeezy on his own.) Ye made his first post to Parler five days ago. Parler is a right-wing social media site that he agreed to buy for an undisclosed amount after Twitter and Instagram locked him out. He talked about Romans 8:31.