Adidas' CEO weighed in on the company's reaction to Kanye West's controversial statements

By Colleen Kratofil
May 03, 2018 12:57 PM
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After Kanye West came under fire for implying that slavery was a “choice” for African-Americans on TMZ Live, one of his most successful business relationships — with Adidas — may be at risk.

In a new interview with Bloomberg TV, Adidas AG Chief Executive Officer Kasper Rorsted said the company has not discussed dropping the rapper yet, and tried to distance himself from West’s comments throughout the interview.

“We neither comment or speculate on every single comment that our external creators are making,” Rorsted said, noting that West’s Yeezy line is highly valued at Adidas. “Kanye has been and is a very important part of our strategy and has been a fantastic creator and that’s where I’m going to leave it. I’m not going to comment on every comment that he or somebody else are making.”

He did clarify that he has not spoken to West about these remarks, but does plan to eventually address them in some capacity. “I saw the comment, as you have seen it, I haven’t had any conversation with Kanye in the last 24 hours,” he said.

Credit: Rindoff/Dufour/Getty

He continued: It’s very clear to us that we’re a sports company, we want to change people’s lives through sport which is a very important part of course that we will have conversations, but I do want to focus on the core what the company is about which is delivery the best sporting goods products in the world and having our consumer buy those products and that’s what’s happening right now in the marketplace as you can see very clearly from the results we just published.”

Rorsted also confirmed during the interview that there has not been a conversation within the Adidas company about dropping West in the past 24 hours.

While Adidas may not be changing their business relationship with the rapper yet, a number of high-profile stars have spoken out against his slavery comments.

During his rant on TMZ, he spoke out about the centuries African Americans spent in slavery. “You hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years?! That sounds like a choice,” he said. “You were there for 400 years and it was all of y’all? It’s like we’re meant to be in prison. I like the word ‘prison’ because slavery goes too direct to the idea of blacks…Prison is something that unites us as one race.”

Afterward, celebrities including Eve and Will.i.am spoke out about these comments.

“That statement was one of the most ignorant statements that anybody who came from the hood could ever say about their ancestors, that slavery is a choice,” Will.i.am said on Good Morning America. “What are you talking about?”

Eve commented on The Talk: “Slavery is a fact. Slavery is part of our history… we cannot forget it… we are still feeling the effects of slavery within our community, within our culture. It hurts me. At the end of the day, we all got lucky and got plucked out of our hoods and live these amazing lives, but you cannot be so far in your bubble to think you are not a part of what this history is.”

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In an earlier Twitter rant, West started a media firestorm after supporting President Donald Trump. “You don’t have to agree with trump [sic] but the mob can’t make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother,” he wrote. “I love everyone. I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.”

Many celebrities openly criticized his remarks, including West’s wife, Kim Kardashian West. “When he spoke about Trump… Most people (including myself) have very different feelings & opinions about this,” Kim wrote on Twitter. “But this is HIS opinion. I believe in people being able to have their own opinions, even if really different from mine. He never said he agrees with his politics.”