Kanye West is a billionaire today, but it wasn’t so long ago that the rapper was $53 million in debt. West started accumulating massive amounts of wealth in recent years due to his Yeezy fashion brand. Here’s everything you should know.
1. While sources differ on Kanye’s actual net worth with Forbes listing it at $1.8 billion and Bloomberg placing it at $6.6 billion, and West now saying it’s $10 billion. The rapper is in a good place today financially as compared to six years ago when he was $53 million in debt.
2. In 2016, Kanye West made headlines when he begged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg via Twitter to invest $1 billion into his “ideas,” because he was personally $53 million in debt.
3. Kanye was mocked on the internet for his plea. A hardcore fan from Minneapolis even started a GoFundMe for the polarizing rapper at the time and raised just over $57,000 of its $53 million goal, but it’s unclear if the money ever actually went to Kanye.
4. Ye’s financial fortune turned mainly due to his Yeezy brand and the agreement he struck in 2013 to move Yeezy from Nike to Adidas.
5. The rapper negotiated an “unheard of 15% royalty on the wholesale price of his sneakers,” plus a marketing fee. Michael Jordan whose Air Jordan line of sneakers for Nike generates about $3 billion in sales each year, only gets about 5 per cent royalty, according to Forbes, for comparison.
6. Ye generated $150 million in income during Yeezy’s first 12 months of existence after selling $1 billion worth of pricey sneakers. Since then the brand has only grown bigger, growing by 31per cent even through the pandemic to nearly $1.7 billion in annual revenue in 2020 and netting $191 million in royalties.
7. Going into 2020, Forbes listed Kanye’s net worth at $240. Kanye felt insulted and kept saying he was a billionaire. “When I did Forbes, I showed them a $890 million receipt, and they still didn’t say ‘billionaire,’” he said.
8. West even threatened to change his name to “Christian Genius Billionaire Kanye West.” “When people say it’s crass to call yourself a billionaire, I say I might legally change my name to Christian Genius Billionaire Kanye West for a year until y’all understand exactly what it is,” the rapper said.
9. West took to social media to brag about his wealth in October of 2020 tweeting: “From $53 million in debt to a net worth of $5 billion in 4 years,” Ye wrote. “Thank you, Jesus. I know I fall short, but I repent. I am fully in service to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are building schools of the future. Thank God for providing the increase.”
10. His then-wife Kim Kardashian even tweeted then about how proud she was of West turning around his fortune. She said she’s seen how hard he’s worked and how much heart and soul he puts into his business. “It’s of no surprise to anyone who works with or is close to Kanye that he has been able to turn millions of dollars in debt into a billion in only four years. 100% on his own terms, while owning 100% of his business,” she wrote.
11. West also signed a 10-year deal with Gap for Yeezy clothes and shoes. The YEEZY GAP tie-up, a 10-year agreement that was announced last year, hopes to emulate the success of the adidas partnership. Gap expects West’s clothing and apparel collection to break $150 million in sales in its first full year in 2022. The company also envisions it becoming a billion-dollar revenue brand within 8 years, with the potential to exceed $1 billion as soon as 2023.
12. West told Forbes his success in recent years is due to his religious beliefs and his bipolar diagnosis, which he dubbed as his “superpower” that drives his imagination.
13. The rapper said he’s “just blessed through the grace of God to go from tweeting at Mark Zuckerberg” for money to creating his billion-dollar empire today.
“People wondered, ‘Why did you tweet at Mark Zuckerberg?’ And I was like, ‘Hey, I heard he was looking for aliens,’” West said.
14. Forbes declared West a billionaire in April 2020, listing his net worth at $1.3 billion. He was now part of a small crowd of Black U.S. billionaires, a list that includes filmmaker Tyler Perry, rapper-turned-entrepreneur Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter), Charlotte Hornets owner and basketball legend Michael Jordan, and Oprah Winfrey.