Kanye West's partnership with Adidas helped him become a billionaire

Berlin (AFP) - German sportswear giant Adidas said Tuesday it was ending its partnership with Kanye West after a series of anti-Semitic outbursts by the controversial rapper.

Recent comments by West – known formally as Ye – were “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous”, Adidas said in a statement.

“After a thorough review, the company has taken the decision to terminate the partnership with Ye immediately.”

Adidas said it would “end production” of the highly successful “Yeezy” line designed together with West and “stop all payments to Ye and his companies”.

The abrupt end to the collaboration between the sports outfitter and rapper would slash Adidas’s net income in 2022 by “up to 250 million euros ($246 million)”, it estimated.

Adidas’s decision to dump the artist was “overdue”, said Josef Schuster of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

“For weeks, West has caused worldwide furore with his anti-Semitic remarks,” Schuster said, adding that the rapper’s comments had become “intolerable”.

- T-shirt statement -

Adidas began a review of its relationship with West earlier this month after he appeared at a fashion show in Paris wearing a shirt with the slogan “White Lives Matter.”

The phrase is a dog whistle to right-wing groups in the United States and a reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Days later he was locked out of Twitter and Instagram for threatening to “Go death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.”

Comments made by West “violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness”, Adidas said Tuesday.

The artist was associated with rival sportswear company Nike for years but broke away in 2013, lending his name to Adidas as they launched their first Yeezy shoe together in 2015 – a partnership that went on to make him a billionaire.

Along with Beyonce, Stella McCartney and Pharrell Williams, West’s has been one of the top names used by Adidas to boost sales, especially online.

Adidas is the latest brand to part ways with West following his recent outbursts. Paris-based fashion house Balenciaga ended ties with the rapper last week, saying it “no longer (has) any relationship nor any plans for future projects related to this artist.”

One of Hollywood’s biggest talent agencies, CAA, also said Monday it was dropping West, while film and TV producer MRC said it was shelving an already-finished documentary about the artist.

- Inflammatory remarks -

Adidas’s decision would stop West from “using the company’s immense platform to amplify his hateful ideology about Jews”, the World Jewish Congress said in a statement.

The German group’s “delayed move” in response to the anti-Semitic comments had come after “massive public outcry heavily”, the WJC said.

Rights campaigners and entertainment world figures had heaped pressure on Adidas to stop working with the rapper.

“Those who continue to do business with West are giving his misguided hate an audience,” Ari Emanuel, CEO of entertainment agency Endeavor, wrote in the Financial Times.

“There should be no tolerance anywhere for West’s anti-Semitism.”

West’s ex-wife Kim Kardashian also appeared to join the pile-on, without mentioning the father of her children by name.

“Hate speech is never OK or excusable,” she wrote on Twitter and Instagram on Monday.

“I stand together with the Jewish community and call on the terrible violence and hateful rhetoric towards them to come to an immediate end.”

Adidas fell sharply on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange following its announcement, with shares down almost eight percent at 95.88 euros in afternoon trading.