One big perk to winning the Super Bowl is showing off your accomplishments with a championship ring. What many NFL fans don’t know is that the athletes and coaches aren’t the only ones who receive them. In fact, the team can order and gift rings to whomever they choose.
Unfortunately, one fan took advantage of this policy to purchase and sell three Super Bowl rings he claimed were for Tom Brady‘s family.
A history of selling Super Bowl rings
Scott V. Spina Jr. has a history of profiting from Super Bowl rings. According to ESPN, Spina first bought a 2016 Super Bowl championship ring from a former Patriots player in 2017. In this case, Spina was legally purchasing a real championship ring and was able to sell it to an Orange County broker for $63,000.
However, Spina gained more than just a profit from that deal. During the transaction, he learned players could purchase slightly smaller rings for their family and friends. With this information, Spina contacted the company producing the rings.
He impersonated the former Patriots player and ordered three new rings engraved with “Brady.” He told the company the rings were for Brady’s baby. Spina approached the same broker with an offer to sell these new rings. According to the broker, Spina told him Brady had given the rings to his nephews.
The broker became suspicious of whether Brady had any nephews and tried to end the deal. However, Spina sold the rings to an auction house for $100,000 that same day. This was way more than Spina bought the rings for. In 2018, the auction house sold just one of the rings for $337,000.
On February 1, 2022, Spina pled guilty to multiple crimes connected to his scheme. Altogether, he was charged with one count of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft. In addition to his three-year sentence, Spina was ordered to pay the former Patriots player $63,000 in restitution.
How to order a Super Bowl ring
Spina’s story does highlight one big distinction when it comes to ordering Super Bowl rings. While he ordered a replica ring, meant for family and friends, a limited number of full-size, original rings were available.
Each team is limited to only 150 rings, which they can choose how to distribute. These generally go to the players, coaches, owners, employees, and maybe an occasional super fan. Once the 150 rings are doled out, the owner can order more if they choose; others don’t have that option.
Spina’s rings weren’t one of these “official” rings. According to the Washington Post, when he bought the former Patriots’ official ring, he found paperwork with an official website and login instructions.
This website is how players can buy smaller, replica rings for their family and friends. These orders are supposed to be limited to members of the organization. If an average fan wants to order a ring, they’ll need to find a jeweler selling an unlicensed knock-off.
How often are Super Bowl rings sold?
One reason Spina’s scheme worked for as long as it did was that it’s not uncommon to sell Super Bowl rings. Each year, Super Bowl rings, made of precious metals, gemstones, and diamonds, seem to become more extravagant.
A Super Bowl ring today costs around $33,000 to make. Combine that with the sentimental and historical value of each ring, and someone could make quite a profit off of it. A ring belonging to a player like Brady would be worth even more.
There are many reasons why a player or coach might sell their ring. For example, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft auctioned off one of his rings as part of the All In Challenge in 2020. The ring sold for over 1 million dollars, all of which went to charity.
On the other side of the spectrum, former Washington Redskins defensive end Dexter Manley became addicted to drugs and sold his ring to purchase cocaine. Manley has had a long road to recovery. Thanks to the efforts of his wife and a longtime friend, he was eventually reunited with his ring.