NFL

How Robert Kraft and the White House’s Misunderstanding Ended With a $25,000 ‘Gift’ to Vladimir Putin

The New England Patriots have a lot of Super Bowl rings — six, to be exact. As is customary for championship NFL teams, Patriots team owner Robert Kraft received a ring every time they won a title, too. But did you know at least one of those rings is no longer in his possession? If you haven’t heard the story of how Kraft lost one of his Super Bowl rings, buckle up.

The wild tale involves a massive misunderstanding with one of the most powerful men on the planet — that isn’t Bill Belichick — none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

The Patriots’ 2005 Super Bowl victory

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To culminate the 2004-05 NFL season, the Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX. According to ESPN, they won the game 24-21. It was the team’s third championship in four seasons. After serving as upstarts in 2002 against the St. Louis Rams, they’d now asserted themselves as a true dynasty.

While it would take a decade for the team to win another Super Bowl, this would only be the beginning of their dominant run as a top tier NFL franchise. To put the Patriots’ success into context since Belichick and Tom Brady came to town, the team has won six Super Bowls and played in nine. That’s a 20-year run unlike any other in NFL history. 

Of course, after the Patriots won, they received championship rings. Kraft took his to Russia for a historic meeting with Putin. He didn’t realize going over there that it would never return to the U.S. 

Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl ring in question

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According to CNN, the ring in question was from the Patriots’ 2005 win. It is a 4.94-carat ring and it’s supposedly valued at around $25,000 — though due to the nature of how Putin acquired it, it’d likely skyrocket in value if placed on the market today. The ring is currently in the Kremlin library with the rest of Putin’s gifts from foreign dignitaries.

The question then becomes, how did the ring get from Kraft’s possession to Putin’s? The answer is simple: Kraft handed it to him. But the intent behind Kraft handing it to Putin, and whether he intended to let him keep it, is where details start to get a bit murky. 

How Vladimir Putin ended up with Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl ring

So how exactly did it go down? How is it that two men so powerful and influential could fail to communicate effectively about such an important heirloom? According to the New York Post, it’s simply a matter of a misunderstanding. Kraft says it was taken whereas Putin says it was a gift.

To set the scene, when the two leaders met, Putin and Kraft greeted each other warmly. Kraft then said the following happened: “I took out the ring and showed it to [Putin]. And he put it on and he goes, ‘I can kill someone with this ring … I put my hand out, and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out.”

Clearly, the way Kraft tells it, Putin and his handlers made off with the ring. Putin and his Russian representatives say Kraft offered the ring as a gift. Kraft harbors no ill will about the event; he likes to tell the story as a humorous anecdote and is reportedly happy the ring is still in Russia, where it’s on display. It probably doesn’t hurt that Kraft owns a football team worth billions and has plenty of other rings to wear as well.