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Richard Hayne, the President of Urban Outfitters Inc Photo by: Forbes

The CEO who insults the Irish and laughs all the way to the bank

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Richard Hayne, the President of Urban Outfitters Inc Photo by: Forbes

Richard Hayne, 64, the bad hair day man in the photo with this article hardly looks like a fashion maven.

Yet he is the founder of Urban Outfitters, the Philadelphia-based  hip clothing store chain with over 300 outlets, including two in Ireland, which has incensed Irish Americans with its blatant Irish St Patrick’s Day shirts and merchandise.

The shirts and caps show stick figure Irish drunks vomiting shamrocks, among other depictions.
He is worth $1.8 billion, making him one of the wealthiest men in America, named on the Forbes global billionaire list in 2011.

He is also a man who has made his fortune in some cases from clothes mocking different ethnic groups.

He is a supporter of right wing-presidential candidate Rick Santorum and is a former hippy who opposed the Vietnam War but underwent a political transformation.

He has insulted African-Americans by distributing a game called Ghettopoly, a ghetto version of Monopoly.

He has incensed Jews with T-shirts that depict young Jewish girls surrounded by and grabbing dollar bills.

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He just recently upset American Indians by taking the trademark Navajo and using it without permission, and Christian groups by distributing a game called “Jesus Dress Up.”

Irish Congressional leaders, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and the Irish Anti Defamation Federation group have all criticized Urban Outfitters but the company has refused to respond to queries, even from ABC Television, Washington Post, Fox News, and others.

Hayne is the former left-wing hippy who opposed the Vietnam War and is now a hard right-wing figure who has funded Pennsylvania presidential contender Rick Santorum and has been accused of being anti-Gay by among others, singer Miley Cyrus of all people.

In the Ghettopoly game which his company distributed, instead of building houses and hotels, property owners could build crack houses and projects. The seven game pieces include a pimp, a ho, a 40 oz, a machine gun, a marijuana leaf, a crack rock, and a basketball. The game was denounced as racist and offensive by the NAACP.

In 2003, Jewish groups were incensed when a T-shirt was released with the phrase "Everyone Loves a Jewish Girl" surrounded by dollar signs. It was condemned by the Anti Defamation League. The ADL later expressed "outrage and disgust" at other incidents of insensitivity.

The following year, in 2004, “Jesus Dress Up”, a game created by artist Normal Bob Smith, drew Christian fury when Urban Outfitters distributed a version of it. Users could play with a dress-up doll by placing movable layers of clothing on top of a crucified Jesus. Outfits in the original version included a light-blue tuxedo, football uniform, snorkeling gear, and red devil pajamas.

The company allegedly received feedback from an estimated 250,000 emails.  In 2011, the Navajo Nation sent a  cease-and-desist letter to Urban Outfitters, demanding that the company stop using the term "Navajo" for a line of products that included underwear and a liquor flask.

Hayne recently stepped back up as CEO of Urban Outfitters when the former CEO resigned.
Hayne is laughing all the way to the bank despite the ethnic uproar over his products.

Not surprisingly, he did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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