Adidas CEO on Ye’s antisemitic comments: ‘I don’t think he meant what he said’

Adidas CEO Bjørn Gulden said he doesn’t think Ye, formerly Kanye West, “meant what he said” last year when he made antisemitic comments that led the company to drop the rapper.

Adidas and other companies cut ties with Ye after he made offensive comments, including a social media post threatening to go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.”

Gulden, former CEO of rival company Puma, joined the company last November, shortly after the company ended its contract with Ye.

In a podcast interview, Gulden said he thinks Ye is one of the most creative people in the world, both in music and streetwear culture. He said Adidas’s decision to end its contract with Ye was unfortunate.

“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 said on Norges Bank Investment Management’s podcast.

Adidas told CNN the company’s position had not changed and ending its partnership with Ye was the appropriate decision.

Adidas predicted it would lose more than $1 billion in revenue after discontinuing Ye’s products. In August, the company announced they would be donating some of the profits made on the high-end Yeezy collaboration to anti-hate groups, The Associated Press reported.

Gulden said the collapse of the profitable partnership was “very sad.”

“You know, when you work with third parties that could happen, and you know, it’s part of … the game,” Gulden said. “That can happen with an athlete, it can happen with an entertainer. So it’s part of the business.”

Gulden, a 58-year-old Norwegian, was once a professional soccer and handball player. He worked for Adidas as senior vice president of apparel and accessories from 1992 to 1999 before returning to lead the company in November 2022.

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