Adidas boss defends Kanye West's antisemitic tirades

Bjørn Gulden said West 'didn't mean what he said' about Jewish people and that he's not a bad person


The CEO of Adidas has defended Kanye West after saying he was going to go “death con 3” on Jewish people.

Gulden said he doesn’t think West “meant what he said” when the rapper made a series of antisemitic comments last year.

West’s frequent anti-Jewish tirades in interviews began with the “death con 3” tweet in October last year.

His comment led to him being dropped by Adidas after a viral public campaign and by his talent agency and attorney.

In late November, he had dinner with former President Donald Trump and Nick Fuentes, a right-wing provocateur and avowed antisemite.

Several days later, he spent three hours as a guest on “Infowars,” the streaming show hosted by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, in which West proclaimed multiple times that he loved Adolf Hitler.

West has kept a relatively low profile since making the antisemitic comments.

Speaking on the Norwegian podcast In Good Company, Gulden said of West: “I think Kanye West is one of the most creative people in the world both in music and what I call street culture.

“He’s extremely creative and has together with Adidas created a Yeezy line that was very successful.

“And then he made some statements which weren't that good and that caused Adidas to break the contract and withdraw the product.

“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 across that way.”

Gulden added: “That meant we lost that business. One of the most successful collabs in history – very sad.

"But again, when you work with third parties, that could happen. It’s part of the game.

That can happen with an athlete, it can happen with an entertainer. It’s part of the business.”

Adidas was left with more than £1bn of unsold Yeezy stock after cutting ties with West. A percentage of the proceeds from the sales of it are being handed to groups that combat hate speech, including the Anti-Defamation League.

Gulden said of the plan: “There is no place in sport or society for hate of any kind and we remain committed to fighting against it.”

The end of the Yeezy product line contributed to a £350m drop in sales for Adidas in the first quarter of 2023.

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