Adidas has announced that proceeds from the sale of their $1.2 billion worth of Kanye West’s Yeezys shoes will benefit charities like the Anti-Defamation League and a non-profit founded by George Floyd’s brother.
The company’s CEO Bjorn Gulden previously told shareholders that Adidas would begin offloading the leftover Yeezys and “donate money to the organizations that help us and were harmed by what Ye said.”
On Friday, Adidas announced two of those organizations, both of which represent those who were deeply impacted by West’s words: The Anti-Defamation League — West’s history of antisemitic language and beliefs is well-documented — and the Philonise & Keeta Floyd Institute for Social Change, which was founded by George Floyd’s brother Philonise. (In Oct. 2022, West told Drink Champs that fentanyl, and not being suffocated by a police officer’s knee, caused Floyd’s death; later, in a rare moment of lucidity, West apologized.)
“After careful consideration, we have decided to begin releasing some of the remaining Adidas Yeezy products,” Gulden in a statement Friday. “Selling and donating was the preferred option among all organizations and stakeholders we spoke to. There is no place in sport or society for hate of any kind and we remain committed to fighting against it.”
“At a time when antisemitism has reached historic levels in the U.S. and is rising globally, we appreciate how adidas turned a negative situation into a very positive outcome. They have shown real
thoughtfulness in engaging with community organizations working to combat this pernicious and stubborn hatred,” ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt added in a statement.
“Their leadership, in not only condemning anti-Jewish hate but lending their support for education and other initiatives, is exemplary and a model for other public companies to emulate. We thank them for their ongoing dialogue around their remaining inventory and their vested interest in tackling issues of prejudice and hate.”
The sale of the Yeezys — the last vestige of West’s since-terminated partnership with Adidas — will begin on May 31. The company debated destroying the leftover stock, but as Gulden said at the shareholders meeting, “Burning those shoes cannot be the solution.” In April, some Adidas shareholders filed a class action lawsuit against the company, alleging that Adidas failed to minimize the fallout from the West split that ultimately sent the stock tumbling.
Last year, not long after the Yeezy/Adidas partnership ended, Rolling Stone reported extensively on the toxic workplace culture inside the shoe company. One employee reported hearing West say that “skinheads and Nazis were his greatest inspiration,” while a former senior Adidas exec added that they’d heard such comments from West before.