Kanye West Is the Greatest Shoe Salesman Behind Michael Jordan

Kanye West is many things to many people. Most know him as a rapper, responsible for iconic albums like The College Dropout. To others, he is a fashion innovator, designing and releasing lines of athletic wear and neutral basics that sell out year after year.

Still, other fans are most familiar with West due to his marriage to Kim Kardashian, and his close association with the first family of reality television. However, West‘s ultimate legacy might be his contribution to the footwear industry. 

Kanye West became famous as a rapper

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1977, West’s story is one of rags to riches. Raised primarily by his mother, West showed an early affinity for writing and creating, and became a record producer in the early 2000s.

West worked with a variety of other musicians, helping them to develop creatively and writing songs for them. By 2004, West had decided to break away from writing and producing for other singers and embark on his own journey.

In 2004, he released his debut album, The College Dropout. The album became an immediate hit and was praised by critics and fans alike. West himself was a controversial figure from the start of his ascent to stardom and showed a complete unwillingness to censor himself or to temper his beliefs.

As the years went on, West continued to work in the music industry, becoming one of the world’s best-known and most popular rappers. However, West had other ideas as well and soon revealed his talents as a businessman and designer

Kanye West’s successful shoe business

Kanye West not smiling, looking at the camera
Kanye West | Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images/Getty Images

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By 2009, West decided to start designing in earnest and announced an exclusive deal with Nike. It was during his deal with Nike that he produced the Air Yeezy 1, which became hugely popular with fans. 

In December 2013, Kanye West announced that he had begun working with Adidas and would begin designing exclusive footwear lines for the company, effectively ending his business relationship with Nike. West’s line for Adidas became insanely popular as well, and the product launches sold out within minutes of first launching.

Year after year, the popularity of the Yeezy footwear brand has not waned, and if anything, the sneakers have become the ultimate in fashion footwear, often reselling for triple the original purchase amount. 

Michael Jordan is still the top-earning shoe salesman

It is West’s shoe business, more than anything, that has been responsible for his fortune. Recently, Forbes declared West a billionaire, with a net worth of around $1.3 billion — primarily due to his deal with Adidas.

The impressive statistics backing West makes him the second highest-earning celebrity of 2020 — just behind his sister-in-law, Kylie Jenner. In addition to West’s Yeezy money, he makes a killing from his other fashion lines and business ventures, including, of course, his music sales.

Still, it is his sneaker money that will likely keep the rapper in the green for years to come. He’s showing no signs of slowing down, either, and has spoken out about his passion for designing on many occasions. 

As successful as West’s shoe deal has been, there is one star who continues to outearn the rapper. Michael Jordan’s longtime deal with Nike for his iconic Air Jordan sneakers is estimated to be worth around $3 billion, almost double to West’s $1.3 billion Adidas deal. Still, West could eventually catch up to the basketball legend, given that Jordan has had several decades worth of a head start.