What’s the Financial Cost of Kanye’s Hate Speech? Adidas Is Finding Out.

The footwear giant ended its relationship with Ye after his antisemitic comments last fall. The bill is staggering.

Pairs of Yeezy sneakers circle a welcome mat that says "Please Remove Your Yeezy's" on the floor
You won't believe what Ye's meltdown cost Adidas.
David Lezcano / Unsplash

“Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech,” the company said in a statement last October, after Kanye West, who now goes by Ye, made alarming antisemitic remarks on Twitter. “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 monetary cost of the fallout between the footwear giant and the artist formerly known as Kanye is now starting to come into focus. Adidas could see a $1.27 billion — that’s “billion” with a “B,” folks — sales loss in 2023 as a result of the split.

According to Front Office Sports, citing an Adidas-published report about its various “challenges,” the company already took a $633 million sales hit in the fourth quarter of 2022. Mentioning Yeezy by name multiple times in the report, Adidas places a large portion of blame for the revenue loss on the termination of its partnership with the disgraced mogul.

“Analysts estimate the Yeezy brand accounted for as much as 7% of total sales,” Front Office Sports wrote, adding that the Adidas split from Ye could lead to company’s first annual loss in three decades. The projected $1.27 billion bill for 2023 will arrive due to the company’s failure to sell its existing stock of Yeezy shoes.

Please Stop Interviewing Kanye West
He’s repeatedly demonstrated that he doesn’t deserve a platform, and giving him one is just exploitation

In the company report, Adidas CEO Bjørn Gulden categorized 2023 as a “transition year” as it builds a foundation for the next two. While for some strange reason he did not use this form of the word, Gulden believes over the long haul Adidas will emerge stronger.

“We need to reduce inventories and lower discounts,” he said. “We can then start to build a profitable business again in 2024. Adidas has all the ingredients to be successful. But we need to put our focus back on our core: product, consumers, retail partners, and athletes. We will work on strengthening our people and the Adidas culture.”

Doing so will smartly mean not working with individuals who say Hitler brought goodness into this world by “inventing” highways and certain models of microphones, which is something Ye said after Adidas dropped him. The remarks that led to the split were the antisemitic ones that also got him thrown off Twitter and Instagram. That was the time he amplified a conspiracy theory and said fellow entertainment mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs is controlled by Jewish people, and when he also tweeted that he’ll soon go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.”

Adidas, notably a German-based company, took heat for not ending its partnership with Ye sooner. Even while other brands severed ties with him, it took Adidas two weeks to do so. A financial quarter and one projected annual revenue loss later, now we might know why.

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