Kanye West was obsessed by Adolf Hitler long before the troubled rapper went public with anti-Semitic comments in 2022 yet Adidas executives ignored his disturbing behavior while giving him access to a $100 million-a-year slush fund, according to a jaw-dropping new report.
West’s relationship with Adidas, thought to be nearly as lucrative as Nike’s decades-long partnership with Michael Jordan, is brought under the spotlight in a New York Times report where the sportswear giant is accused of turning a blind eye to West’s fascination with Hitler and the Nazis.
Among the allegations are that in 2018, West, 46, asked a Jewish company executive to kiss a picture of Adolf Hitler every day as a way to show unconditional love and drawing a swastika on a pair of sneakers during a visit to Adidas’ headquarters in Germany.
The article notes that around the time that West launched his doomed presidential campaign and his now-shuttered Christian school, Adidas agreed to pay him $100 million-a-year ‘that he could spend with little oversight.’
Other allegations also resurface in the report, including that West would force employees to watch pornography at the office.
Almost a year ago, Adidas ended a major partnership with West over his statements, discontinued West’s line of Yeezy shoes and moved up the planned departure of its CEO.
Kanye West was obsessed by Adolf Hitler long before the troubled rapper went public with anti-Semitic comments in 2022 yet Adidas executives ignored his disturbing behavior
Adidas (headquarters pictured) agreed to pay Kanye $100 million-a-year ‘that he could spend with little oversight.’
Kayne said that he wanted to go ‘death con 3’ on Jewish people. According to Forbes, he lost $1.5 billion of his estimated $2 billion fortune after Adidas cut ties with the singer – kicking him off the World’s Billionaires list
West’s relationship with Adidas was thought to be nearly as lucrative as Nike’s decades-long partnership with Michael Jordan
In a statement at that time, the company said it ‘does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech.’
It added his ‘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.’
Three years after West drew a swastika on the sneakers, Adidas extended its deal with the Life of Pablo rapper. The report alleges that executives even knew that West was planning to name an album after Hitler but later settled on the name Ye.
West is accused of showering praise on Hitler calling him a ‘master marketer’ and lauded his control of the media.
Jon Wexler, then Adidas’s global director of entertainment and influencer marketing, who a hugely important part of bringing West on board with the company, said that West told him hang a picture of Hitler in his kitchen and kiss it every morning.
Wexler said that the rapper made that remark after the two had an argument related to West’s views on slavery.
The Times’ report reiterates that allegations that West was ‘angry’ at the offices of his Yeezy brand and that he would regularly make sexually crude comments to ‘staff. He’s also accused of drinking while at the offices.
During one exchange, West told Eric Liedtke, Adidas’ global brand manager, that he was forced to pay off a former employee millions because of the rapper’s constant Hitler references.
In another section of the article, it’s revealed that members of the team at Adidas that worked directly with West were given a free subscription to a meditation app, had group therapy sessions and had a member of the human resources team assigned to them.
The piece gone on to say that executives started a Yzy Hotline text group to discuss the problems they had working with him. In one exchange, they discussed taking certain aspects of the business away from his control.
Just this past September, Adidas CEO Bjørn Gulden said during an appearance on the In Good Company podcast that he doubted that West, ‘meant what he said’ when he made his anti-Semitic remarks.
‘I think Kanye West is one of the most creative people in the world,’ Gulden said in an episode released Sept. 12. ‘Very unfortunate, because I don’t think he meant what he said and I don’t think he’s a bad person. It just came off that way.’
During one exchange, West told Eric Liedtke, Adidas’ global brand manager, that he was forced to pay off a former employee millions because of the rapper’s constant Hitler references
West tweeted he would be ‘going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE’ while bringing back his ‘White Lives Matter’ T-shirt
Adidas CEO on Kanye comments: I don’t think he meant it
For weeks prior to his rupture with the sneaker company, West had made anti-Semitic comments in interviews and social media, including an October Twitter post in which he said he would soon go ‘death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,’ an apparent reference to the U.S. defense readiness condition scale known as DEFCON.
He had previously suggested that slavery was a choice and called the COVID-19 vaccine the ‘mark of the beast,’ among other comments. The New York Times report alleges that during meetings at Adidas when he became frustrated, he would accuse the company of treating him like a slave.
He also took heat for wearing a ‘White Lives Matter’ T-shirt to Paris Fashion Week and putting models in the same design.
In 2020, West’s then-wife Kim Kardashian said that the rapper has bipolar disorder, a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings.
West expressed some regrets in a podcast interview, but a few months later tweeted an image of a swastika merged with the Star of David, leading the platform to suspend him.
After he received the same treatment on other social media outlets, West offered to buy Parler, a conservative social network with no gatekeeper. No deal ever materialized.
The break with West left Adidas with a huge supply of unsold Yeezy sneakers that it has begun to sell in limited batches.
It has held two such sales — one in May, the other last month. For both of those sales, Adidas said it donated a portion of the proceeds to charities such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Philonise & Keeta Floyd Institute for Social Change.
West’s net worth sustained a significant hit when Adidas ended their partnership in October
West has faced a slew of controversy since he was pictured wearing a White Live Matter shirt at a Paris Fashion Week event last year
The company has not said how many of those shoes remain in inventory, although the unsold shoes and West’s departure impacted Adidas profits. Executives estimated that it held $1.3 billion worth of Yeezy inventory when it broke off its partnership.
The company faces other problems tied to the rapper. Investors sued Adidas in the U.S., alleging the company knew about West’s offensive remarks and harmful behavior years before the split and failed to take precautionary measures to limit financial losses.
The lawsuit — representing people who bought Adidas securities between May 3, 2018, and February 21, 2023 — pointed to reports of West making anti-Semitic statements in front of Adidas staff in addition to his other remarks.
Adidas said at the time that it rejected ‘these unfounded claims and will take all necessary measures to vigorously defend ourselves against them.