Adidas CEO has apologized for remarks about Kanye West, ADL head says

Adidas Chief Executive Bjorn Gulden has apologized for recent remarks that appeared to downplay the intent behind rapper Kanye West’s antisemitic rants last year, the head of the Anti-Defamation League said Thursday in a post on X.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s chief executive, said in that post that Gulden on Thursday morning “apologized for his misstatement & reiterated that Adidas is committed to fighting #antisemitism & is completely opposed to the ugly hate expressed by” West, who goes by Ye.

The post from Greenblatt’s account was made after reports a day earlier describing a recent podcast interview in which Gulden said he didn’t believe West “meant what he said” following West’s antisemitic remarks that tanked Adidas’ nearly decade-long relationship with the rap megastar last year. The dissolution of the partnership left the sneaker-maker stuck with some $1.3 billion worth of Yeezy-brand shoes and other gear.

The podcast interview — with Nicolai Tangen, chief executive of Norges Bank Investment Management — appeared online last week. Gulden, in that interview, told Tangen that West’s remarks weren’t “good.” He then said that the ending of the relationship, and the withdrawal of the Yeezy-brand products, were “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.”

An ADL representative, via email, confirmed that a meeting between Gulden and Greenblatt took place. But the group declined to offer more information in response to questions about who initially reached out to start the conversation or details about what was discussed.

Adidas ADDYY, -2.68%, when reached, said it had “been in touch with our partners at the ADL.” The company also declined to offer more detail.

“Our decision to end our partnership with Ye because of his unacceptable comments and behavior was absolutely the right one,” Adidas said in a statement. “Our stance has not changed: Hate of any kind has no place in sports or society, and we remain committed to fighting it.”

Adidas in May said that it would sell off its remaining stockpiles of Yeezy shoes, with the money going to charity. The company’s executives, during Adidas’ quarterly earnings call last month, said that the efforts to offload the Yeezy gear brought in around $437 million during that period.

Shares of Adidas fell 2.7% on Thursday.

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