Adidas Creative Director Out After Calling Accused Wisconsin Protestor Shooter Kyle Rittenhouse a ‘Victim’ on Instagram

A longtime Adidas executive is no longer employed by the brand mere days after he took to Instagram to refer to 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse — who is accused of shooting protestors on Sunday in Kenosha, Wis. — as “also a victim.”

Complex shared an image on social media this week outlining the charges Rittenhouse is facing. Adidas global creative director Paul Gaudio — @neckbelly on Instagram — was one of the people who commented.

“He is also a victim here. He’s a kid, who raised him? Who taught him? Who gave him a gun? Not excusing him by any means… but the adults who radicalized him and enabled him should be punished,” Gaudio wrote.

Today, Adidas told FN that Gaudio is no longer employed by the brand.

“After more than 20 years of creative leadership, sports-driven innovation and brand strategy at Adidas, Paul Gaudio will be departing the company,” Adidas said in an emailed statement to FN today. “We are very grateful for his contributions over his long tenure, including the last six years as our Global Creative Director. Paul’s creative vision, deep understanding of consumer trends and passion for breaking down the barriers between sports and the arts has played an important role in building our brand.”

Adidas did not reveal in its statement whether Gaudio’s departure was directly related to the social media comment.

Rittenhouse, of Antioch, Ill., has been charged with first degree intentional homicide, the Village of Antioch Police Department confirmed Wednesday. Court records in Kenosha County filed Thursday indicate Rittenhouse is also facing charges of first degree reckless homicide; two counts of first degree recklessly endangering safety; attempted first degree intentional homicide; and possession of a dangerous weapon, under 18 years of age.

He is in custody of the Lake County Judicial System and is awaiting extradition from Illinois to Wisconsin.

The incident took place during protests of the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, who was shot seven times in the back by police in Kenosha.

Since then, athletes, teams and leagues have presented a united front in protesting Blake’s shooting, including agreeing not to participate in games.

One of the most profound moments came in the days after Blake’s shooting when the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted its Game 5 of the NBA Playoffs against the Orlando Magic. After the Bucks boycott, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets revealed they would also not participate in the Playoffs that day. Shortly after, the NBA said all of Wednesday’s games would be postponed.

Gaudio’s comment was made in the same week Adidas showed support on social media for the athletes and coaches using their platforms to enact change. “We support all players and coaches across sport who are using their platforms to demand justice. Black Lives Matter,” the statement read.


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