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Spirits Company Diageo Ends Diddy Partnership After Racial Discrimination Claim

The entrepreneur has claimed the company failed to invest resources into his Ciroc vodka and DeLeon tequila brands, treating them as “urban” products

Beverage company Diageo is breaking off its business relationship with Sean “Diddy” Combs.

The entrepreneur and music mogul previously accused the company of failing to invest resources into his Ciroc vodka and DeLeon tequila brands — treating them as “urban” products.

In a response filed Tuesday with the Manhattan federal court, Diageo stated that Combs made “false and reckless allegations, including numerous defamatory and disparaging accusations of racism on the part of Diageo and certain of its senior executives.” The company filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit or move Combs’ case to arbitration, according to Bloomberg. 

In a suit filed last month, Combs’s attorneys claim that Diageo and its executives have “put their feet on the neck of Mr. Combs’ brands. In a business where production, distribution, and sales are the pillars of success, Ciroc and DeLeon have been starved of resources for all three.”

Combs also alleged that Diageo’s President of Reserve and New Business, Stephen Rust, “directly acknowledged the company’s racist undertones in 2019,” and told the entrepreneur that some of the company’s leadership “resented him for making too much money.” The suit also claims that Rust admitted that Combs’ race was “part of the reason Diageo limited the neighborhoods where the Combs brands were distributed.”

In a statement to Rolling Stone, a Diageo spokesperson denied the allegations: “For more than 15 years, we’ve had a productive and mutually beneficial relationship with Mr. Combs on various business ventures, making significant investments that have resulted in financial success for all involved,” the company stated. “While we respect Mr. Combs as an artist and entrepreneur, his allegations lack merit, and we are confident the facts will show that he has been treated fairly.”   


In response to Diageo’s Tuesday filing, per the Financial Times, Combs’s attorney claimed the company “attempting to end its deals with Mr Combs is like firing a whistleblower who calls out racism. It’s a cynical and transparent attempt to distract from multiple allegations of discrimination.”

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