Adidas boss says meeting with Ye after Superbowl not planned

By Thomson Reuters Mar 13, 2024 | 6:59 AM

By Helen Reid

HERZOGENAURACH, Germany (Reuters) – Adidas CEO Bjorn Gulden did not discuss business with rapper Ye when they met after the Superbowl last month, he said on Wednesday, after a post on Instagram by Ye, previously known as Kanye West, sparked speculation.

Ye posted a photo of the pair with the caption “make adidas great again” on Feb 12. Gulden said he bumped into Ye at Los Angeles International Airport after the Superbowl, adding it was not a planned meeting.

Adidas cut ties with Ye in October 2022, halting production and temporarily suspending sales of the highly profitable Yeezy sneaker line, after a series of antisemitic comments he made in interviews and social media posts.

But Ye’s Instagram post last month sparked speculation, among some fans of the rapper, about a new deal with the sportswear brand.

“It was not a meeting, there were no business discussions,” Gulden told reporters at Adidas headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany.

Though Adidas stopped producing the Yeezy sneakers it co-created with Ye, it resumed sales last year to clear remaining stock and reduce its losses from the partnership ending. It pledged to donate part of the proceeds to charities combating antisemitism and racism.

Gulden updated his Instagram from the Superbowl, too, posting a photo with U.S. businessman Robert Kraft, founder of the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism (FCAS), one of the organisations Adidas has pledged to support.

The meetings show the tightrope Gulden still has to tread as he seeks to reboot Adidas and put the break-up behind the company.

For each shoe sale, Ye receives a previously agreed commission. Gulden on Wednesday declined to comment on the amount of royalties paid to Ye last year, citing the ongoing legal dispute between Adidas and the rapper.

Adidas made 750 million euros in revenue from Yeezy sales last year, resulting in a 300 million euro profit. The company set aside 140 million euros for donations to charities.

(Reporting by Helen Reid; editing by Jason Neely)