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Mega music producer and business mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs is suing spirits company Diageo, accusing it of neglecting their business agreement and failing to invest in his liquor brands because he is Black

CBS News reports the complaint, filed Wednesday with the New York Supreme Court, said that while Diageo publicly promotes itself as a leader on diversity, Combs and his company found it unwilling to treat its Black partners equally. 

Combs said Diageo “kneecapped” his Ciroc Vodka and DeLeon Tequila brands by depriving them of resources after they were “typecasted” as “Black brands” meant only for “urban” consumers. 

Diageo and its executives “put their feet on the neck of Mr. Combs’ brands,” according to the suit. 

“In a business where production, distribution, and sales are the pillars of success, Ciroc and DeLeon have been starved of resources for all three.”

In a statement emailed to Agence France-Presse, Diageo denied the allegations, describing its 15-year partnership with Combs as “productive and mutually beneficial.” 

“This is a business dispute, and we are saddened that Mr. Combs has chosen to recast this matter as anything other than that,” a spokesperson said. 

“Our steadfast commitment to diversity within our company and the communities we serve is something we take very seriously. We categorically deny the allegations that have been made and will vigorously defend ourselves in the appropriate forum.” 

Lawsuit claims white celeb spirit brands are treated much differently

The suit also claimed the U.K.-based drinks giant devoted more attention and offered better support to other celebrity-backed competing brands, such as George Clooney’s Casamigos and Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin, while failing to meet its promises for investments in Combs Wines and Spirits. 

“Diageo has treated Mr. Combs and his brands worse than others because he is Black,” the suit said, adding that one of the company’s managers “directly acknowledged the company’s racist undertones in 2019.” 

According to the suit, the manager told Combs that “race was part of the reason Diageo limited the neighborhoods where the Combs brands were distributed,” and that if he were “Martha Stewart” things would be different. 

Combs said in the complaint he intends to seek billions of dollars in damages in other legal proceedings against Diageo. 

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...