Vladimir Putin Is Pretty Sure Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl Ring Was a Gift

The 2005 Super Bowl ring exchange is back in the news.


Photo via Radio_TV_IBS_Liberty on Flickr

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman is pretty sure that the $25,000 Super Bowl ring of Robert Kraft’s his boss pocketed in 2005 was a gift. And he’s keeping it.

The ring is back in the news because the New York Post published comments Kraft made at a New York City gala this weekend in which he retold the following anecdote about his 2005 visit to Russia:

I took out the ring and showed it to [Putin], 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.

Which, yes, the handoff happened in front of cameras, and it did seem apparent to everyone watching that Kraft maybe didn’t mean to casually hand over a $25,000 gift with great emotional value at a random photo opp. Kraft has told the story before. At any rate, a Kremlin spokesperson is quoted in CNN responding:

“What Mr. Kraft is saying now is weird,” Dmitry Peskov said. “I was standing 20 centimeters away from him and Mr. Putin and saw and heard how Mr. Kraft gave this ring as a gift.” Or as Vince Vaughn might say, “The ring was a gift, Todd. I’m taking it with me.”

The “gift” story is in line with Kraft’s statement at the time. Reporters who watched the exchange were pretty confused about whether Kraft intended it as a gift, but Kraft put out a statement confirming he did, in which he said “President Putin, a great and knowledgable sports fan, was clearly taken with its uniqueness. I decided to give him the ring as a symbol of the respect and admiration that I have for the Russian people and [his] leadership.”

But the New York Post says that the statement came only after the Bush White House pressured Kraft to let the ring go, telling him, “‘It would really be in the best interest of US-Soviet relations if you meant to give the ring as a present.” (That quotes comes from Kraft, who presumably meant “Russian” not “Soviet.”)

Hence, the ring is in the Kremlin library and that’s likely where it will stay. A spokesman for the Kraft Group tells CNN Kraft has made his peace with that and only tells the story “for laughs,” which, yeah, wouldn’t you? “He loves that the 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,” said Stacey James, a spokesman for The Kraft Group.

At least he’s got a few more rings to fall back on.