Rapper Kanye West  Picture: AP/African News Agency (ANA)
Rapper Kanye West Picture: AP/African News Agency (ANA)

WATCH: Kanye West's sneaker empire is worth a billion dollars

By KEITH GRIFFITH Time of article published Jul 10, 2019

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Kanye West's sneaker empire is a billion-dollar enterprise, according to a new cover story on the rapper's business endeavors by Forbes magazine. 

Revenue for the Yeezy sneaker line, now with Adidas, is set to top $1.5 billion in 2019, and West's pretax income over the past 12 months came in at $150 million, according to Forbes.

Since moving the Yeezy line from Nike to Adidas in 2013, West has struck what Forbes calls an 'unprecedented deal' for 15 percent royalty on wholesale, plus a marketing fee.

For comparison, Michael Jordan is thought to get royalties around 5 percent on the Air Jordan line, which does annual sales of about $3 billion. 

West describes his foot line as 'the Lamborghini of shoes', a nod to the matte-black Lamborghini SUV he owns. 

Forbes reports that West appeared for its cover photo shoot not once but twice wearing a black hoodie and that he called the editor to share his concern that the piece would not focus enough on the religious influence on his business.

West's business fortunes mark a stunning reversal from just three years ago in late 2016, when he begged Mark Zuckerberg to invest $1 billion in his 'ideas' and claimed to be $53 million in debt. 

'I'm just blessed through the grace of God to go from tweeting at Mark Zuckerberg (to now)'. 

He added: 'People wondered, 'Why did you tweet at Mark Zuckerberg?' And I was like, 'Hey, I heard he was looking for aliens.'' 

Soon after, he cancelled the latter half of a lucrative tour and checked himself into a Los Angeles hospital for over a week with symptoms of sleep deprivation and temporary psychosis, only to emerge in a bizarre meeting with Donald Trump, then the president-elect, at Trump Tower.

West first debuted his Yeezy shoes in 2009, after sketching out his ideas on a plane where he happened to be seated next to the CEO of Nike. 

'I am a product guy at my core,' West told Forbes. 'To make products that make people feel an immense amount of joy and solve issues and problems in their life, that's the problem-solving that I love to do.'

Crucially, West maintained ownership over the Yeezy brand, allowing him to jump ship for Adidas when, he tells Forbes, Nike refused to pay royalties. 

Forbes estimates West's net worth at $240million, but says that he is on track to someday be a billionaire. 

Of course, part of West's fortune comes from his music, as he is one of the best-selling music artists of all time with over 135 million records sold worldwide.

West is currently working on an album tentatively titled Yandhi, according to Forbes. 


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