Super Bowl XXXIX, played on February 6, 2005, was one of the more exciting championship games in the history of the National Football League, when the New England Patriots eked out a 24-21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
In the summer of that year, Patriots owner Robert Kraft visited Russia. When meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kraft showed him the $25,000 Super Bowl ring awarded after the game in February, and, according to Kraft, the Russian premier pocketed the jewelry.
While Putin has long maintained that the American business magnate gave him the ring as a gift, Kraft told a gathering last week at Carnegie Hall’s Medal of Excellence gala, where he was being honored, that it was not.
Kraft said he went along at the time with the story that the ring was a gift because he got a call from the White House telling him that it would be “in the best interest of US-Soviet relations if you meant to give the ring as a present.”
Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, told CNN on Sunday that “what Mr. Kraft is saying now is 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.”
But last week Kraft said that when he showed Putin the 4.94-carat ring, the Russian leader put it on his own finger and said, “I can kill someone with this ring.” When Kraft put out his hand to take the ring back, he said that Putin put the ring in his pocket and, surrounded by bodyguards, walked away.
The ring — whether stolen or given willingly as a gift — is now in the Kremlin’s library, according to Peskov.
In 2007, Kraft’s late wife Myra also said that the ring was never meant to be a gift, but last week marked the first time that the Jewish football magnate has publicly made the claim.