Many billionaires have interesting backstories of how they began their multi-million dollar empires. Steve Jobs, for example, quit his job to start Apple, a leading electronics company. Jeff Bezos started the largest online marketplace, Amazon, in his garage. These stories are nothing if not inspiring, and such is the story of Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Kraft grew up watching his favorite NFL team on TV and vowed to be part of it one day. True to his ambition, he worked his way up from selling newspapers and now owns one of the most successful sports franchises.
Robert Kraft’s early life
Robert Kraft was born into a Modern Orthodox Jewish family to Harry Kraft and Sarah Bryan in Brooklyn, Massachusetts, on June 5, 1951. His upbringing was less than luxurious. Kraft’s father worked in Boston’s Chinatown as a dress manufacturer. His mother, Bryan, was from Nova Scotia.
Kraft’s father was a very religious man who held a position at the Congregation Kehillath Israel as a lay leader. Naturally, he’d want his son to also follow into his religious footsteps but as a rabbi. Kraft attended the Edward Devotion School. He graduated from Brookline High School, in 1959, where he was the senior class president.
His religious affiliation prevented Kraft from taking part in various sports activities. Extracurricular activities interfered with his Hebrew studies after school and his observance of the Sabbath.
Kraft was a natural leader. When he attended Columbia University, students elected him class president. Kraft also joined the lightweight football team actively, where he played running back. At Columbia, Kraft met his soul mate and eventual wife, Myra Hiatt, in 1962 at a delicatessen.
The two got married in 18 months, and in June 1963, Kraft graduated from Columbia. In 1965, Kraft earned his MBA from Harvard Business School. Kraft joined politics when he was 27 years of age. He was elected into the Newton Democratic City Committee in the position of chairman.
In 1970, he had considered running against Philip J Philbin but decided against it, citing the lack of privacy and the strain that his involvement in politics caused to his family. Kraft’s disinterest in extending his political career was further solidified by the suicide of his friend H James Shea Jr.
Kraft’s married life and tragic loss
As revealed above, Kraft met his wife, Myra Nathalie Hiatt, in Columbia in 1963. She was the daughter of the late businessman Jacob Hiatt. Unfortunately, she died on July 20, 2011, after a long battle with ovarian cancer. Myra left behind four sons, Jonathan, Daniel, Joshua, and David Kraft. Throughout the 2011 football season, the Patriots’ uniform jerseys included a patch bearing the initials MHK to honor her memory.
The Columbia University Athletics Hall Of Fame inducted Kraft the next year, according to NESN. This wasn’t the only award the businessman received from his alma mater. In 2004, he received the highest honor in the Columbia community, the Alexander Hamilton Medal.
Kraft’s lucrative business ventures
Kraft’s career began in his father-in-law’s packaging company, Rand-Whitney group. Kraft worked his way up and managed to gain control of the company via a leveraged buyout in 1968. It’s worth noting that Kraft used to sell newspapers outside of the Old Braves Stadium. This might seem insignificant, but it laid the foundation for the billionaire in his Kraft Group empire, which deals in paper and packaging.
Robert Kraft bought the New England Patriots in 1994 for a whopping $172 million from James Orthwein. This move is one that Kraft said broke his one rule about money. While it was a very bold move for the businessman, it was a wise investment decision.
The Patriots have won 6 playoffs at the Super Bowl under his leadership, with their first appearance being in the Super Bowl XX. Purchasing the team also gave the world a chance to witness Tom Brady‘s greatness.