It’s one of the oddest stories you will ever hear.
An owner of an NFL team and a Russian president at odds over a Super Bowl ring.
It sounds like a Hollywood movie, and it’s likely that at some point one will be made.
In 2005 Patriots owner Robert Kraft went on a trip with businessmen to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg.
Kraft was wearing his Super Bowl XXXIX ring on his finger but when he left – he did it without the ring.
“I showed the president my most recent Super Bowl ring,” Kraft said at the time, per The Boston Globe. Putin “was clearly taken with its uniqueness … at that point, I decided to give him the ring as a symbol of the respect and admiration that I have for the Russian people and the leadership of President Putin.”
Years later, Kraft has now changed his tune, stating that Putin took the ring, worth upwards of $25,000.
“I took out the ring and showed it to (Putin),” Kraft said this week, per the New York Post. “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.”
Kraft didn’t panic, but did call the White House, in which a George W. Bush handler told him: ” ‘It would really be in the best interest of U.S.-Soviet relations if you meant to give the ring as a present.’ ”
Putin’s spokesman says the ring was a gift from Kraft, telling CNN that Kraft’s comments were “weird.” “I was standing 20 centimeters away from him and Mr. Putin and saw and heard how Mr. Kraft gave this ring as a gift,” the spokesman said Sunday.
The Patriots did their best to try and put the story to bed on the matter without it going any further.
“It’s a humorous, anecdotal story that Robert re-tells for laughs,” Patriots spokesperson Stacey James said. “He loves that his ring is at the Kremlin and, as he stated back in 2005, he continues to have great respect for Russia and the leadership of President Putin. In particular, he credits President Putin for modernizing the Russian economy. An added benefit from the attention this story gathered eight years ago was the creation of some Patriots fan clubs in Russia.”
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