Home » Billionaire Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs files lawsuit against Diageo alleging racial discrimination

Billionaire Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs files lawsuit against Diageo alleging racial discrimination

by Omokolade Ajayi
Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs

Renowned entrepreneur and the most recent U.S. Black billionaire Sean “Diddy” Combs has filed a lawsuit against Diageo, accusing the spirits giant of racial discrimination in treating his vodka and tequila brands. 

Combs claims that Diageo considers his brands, Ciroc vodka, and DeLeon tequila, “Black brands.”

The lawsuit, filed with the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan on Wed., May 31, alleges that Diageo has neglected Diddy’s brands and marginalized their appeal by marketing them as “urban” brands. 

The multi-industry creative who became a billionaire on Oct. 27, a day after Kanye West lost his billionaire status, claimed that Diageo “sabotaged” his DeLeon brand tequila with shoddy packaging that “made the product look cheap” while giving other celebrity brands more attention and resources. 

According to court documents, Diageo executive Stephen Rust allegedly informed Combs in 2019 that the company had limited distribution of DeLeon and Ciroc due to race. Rust reportedly said that his brands would receive a broader distribution if Martha Stewart owned Combs Wines and Spirits.

Diageo responded to the allegations by calling the matter a “business dispute” and emphasizing its commitment to diversity within the company and the communities it serves.

The company denied the allegations and vowed to defend itself appropriately. However, Diageo also expressed disappointment that attempts to resolve the dispute amicably had been ignored, accusing Diddy of damaging a longstanding and successful partnership.

Earlier this year, as part of his ongoing expansion efforts, Diddy rebranded his parent company, Combs Enterprises, to Combs Global.

The rebranding reflects Diddy’s vision of creating the world’s largest portfolio of leading Black-owned brands. Combs Global encompasses music, entertainment, fashion, spirits, and media/television companies.

Diddy’s ambitious expansion strategy includes recent acquisitions such as the Nile List, a $2-million investment in creator platform REC Philly, and the historic $185-million acquisition of crucial markets and assets from cannabis company CRESCO Labs.

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