Kanye West heads church wearing an American flag jacket

Adidas CEO Gulden Backtracks Statement Supporting Kanye West

Home / Top Stories / Adidas CEO Gulden Backtracks Statement Supporting Kanye West

By Afouda Bamidele on September 22, 2023 at 6:45 PM EDT

Adidas CEO Bjørn Gulden has revisited his recent comments regarding Kanye West, clarifying his initial stance.

His statement, which initially seemed to lean towards the controversial star, caused a stir. While the fashion giant and the rapper once boasted a fruitful collaboration, they made the tough call to part ways with him following his regrettable antisemitic comments last year.

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Bjørn Gulden Clarifies Stance After Kanye West Controversy

The former CEO of Pandora almost got on the wrong side of social media after unknowingly stirring up controversy with his recent remarks on the "In Good Company" podcast. He had reportedly suggested that he did not believe West's antisemitic statements from last year. 

However, suddenly, Gulden apologized for his earlier doubts about the controversial issue. He clarified his comments from the podcast, labeling them a "misstatement." 

The former Managing Director of Deichmann emphasized the German sportswear company's unwavering commitment to combating antisemitism and strongly opposed the "ugly hate" expressed by the "College Dropout" rapper.

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Bjorn Gulden at the 2019 FN Achievement Awards
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This message was relayed by Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, on X (formerly known as Twitter) following a conversation with Gulden.

Although Gulden was serving as the CEO of Puma SE at the time the company terminated their contract with the music producer, an Adidas spokesperson also reaffirmed their decision via a statement which read:

"Our decision to end our partnership with Ye because of his unacceptable comments and behaviour was absolutely the right one." 

The message reiterated the fashion brand's unwavering commitment to combating hate in all forms: "Our stance has not changed: Hate of any kind has no place in sports or society, and we remain committed to fighting it." 

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Fans will recall that at the time of the scandal, one of Ye's regrettable actions was wearing a "White Lives Matter" shirt at a Yeezy fashion show in Paris. He even posted a concerning statement about going "death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE." 

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Adidas Pledges Yeezy Proceeds To Combat Antisemitism

Gulden, who was CEO in January, has since spearheaded the company's transition beyond the songwriter's era. This includes the strategic push announced in May to clear out the remaining inventory of Yeezy products left in its warehouse. 

Furthermore, they also committed to donating a substantial portion of the estimated $1.2 billion worth of Yeezys to two prominent nonprofit organizations dedicated to combating racism and antisemitism.

Adidas Ends its Partnership with Ye (Kanye West)
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The designated recipients of the generous donations were the Anti-Defamation League and the Philonise & Keeta Floyd Institute for Social Change, a nonprofit established and led by George Floyd's brother. These organizations directly represented those most impacted by the "808s & Heartbreak" artist's regrettable words.

The first organization addressed the impact of the "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" rapper's history of antisemitic language and beliefs, while the second focused on those affected by the controversial statement suggesting that George's death was due to fentanyl, rather than the suffocation caused by a police officer's knee.

Despite offering a rare apology to George's family, many still found it hard to forgive or forget the "Jesus Walks" hitmaker's statements. 

The above reactions might have been why Gulden suggested to shareholders that selling the surplus Yeezys and contributing funds to organizations affected was the most fitting course of action. 

In his statement to Reuters, he emphasized: "We believe this is the best solution as it respects the created designs and the produced shoes, it works for our people, resolves an inventory problem, and will have a positive impact in our communities. There is no place in sport or society for hate, and we remain committed to fighting against it."

At the time, the imminent launch of the products marked Adidas' initial sale of Yeezys to consumers since parting ways with the father-of-four. It also showed that the brand did not intend to enter any new partnerships with the entrepreneur.

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It is also worth noting that even though they parted ways since the athletic apparel corporation holds the rights to all of the 46-year-old's designs, they can utilize them however they see fit.

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