In 1994, American businessman Robert Kraft bought the New England Patriots for a record $172 million. At the time, the team had won fewer than seven games per season and had never won a Super Bowl. Under Kraft’s ownership, the Patriots became six-time Super Bowl champions with quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick.
Kraft has been keeping quiet these days, especially after his recent scandal. With everything that’s gone down, many NFL fans wonder if he still owns the New England Patriots.
Who is Robert Kraft?
Robert Kenneth Kraft was born in 1941 in Brookline, New York to Harry Kraft, a dress manufacturer, and Sarah Kraft. His parents wanted him to become a rabbi, but he attended Columbia University and married Myra Hiatt, the daughter of a packaging company owner.
Then, in 1968, Kraft earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and gained control of his father-in-law’s business.
Kraft founded International Forest Products, a trader of paper products, in 1972 and combined the two companies to make up the largest paper and packaging company in the United States. According to Forbes, he is currently worth $6.9 billion.
Kraft buys the New England Patriots
When the entrepreneur took over the Patriots in 1994, he said his objective was to bring a championship to New England. The previous owner, James Busch Orthwein, a member of the Anheuser-Busch family, wanted to move the team to his hometown of St. Louis and change the name to the St. Louis Stallions.
Orthwein offered to buy out the team’s lease on the Foxboro Stadium, which Kraft owned, for $75 million, but Kraft said no. At the end of negotiations, Kraft himself wound up buying the team to save it from relocation.
Two years after Kraft took ownership, the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl. He planned to move the team to Hartford, Connecticut, but the deal collapsed in 1998. Bill Belichick was hired as head coach in 2000 and then in 2002, the New England Patriots won for the Super Bowl for the first time under quarterback Tom Brady.
Kraft’s investment turned the Patriots into the NFL’s premier franchise and helped make the league the country’s most valuable. In his 25 years of ownership, they have made it to the Super Bowl 10 times and won six. The team is now worth approximately $3.8 billion — $3.5 billion more than Kraft originally paid.
Robert Kraft faces a huge scandal
In February 2019, Robert Kraft was charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution. According to CNN, the billionaire visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida at least twice.
Surveillance footage showed him being driven to the spa and receiving “paid acts” in one of the rooms. The charge was part of a large-scale sex trafficking crackdown that led to hundreds of arrest warrants in Florida.
Also charged were billionaire John W. Childs, CEO of the private equity firm J.W. Childs Associates, and other patrons ranging from age 19 to 84 years old. Several employees of the spa chain were arrested and charged with racketeering and maintaining a place of prostitution.
Kraft was not arrested and denies he committed a crime. The investigation is ongoing.
Is he still the owner?
Despite the scandal, Robert Kraft still owns the Patriots. A fan since the American Football League days and a season-ticket holder since 1971, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
Under his ownership, the team has celebrated newfound and sustained success. Believing that ownership is what makes them great, the Patriots do not want to lose him and New England does not want to lose their championship team.