Russian president: I did not steal Super Bowl ring
MOSCOW (CNN) — Russia’s president is fighting back: No, he did not steal a Super Bowl ring. And no, he’s not rocking the diamond-encrusted prize on his finger, either.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman denied accusations that the leader kept a Super Bowl ring that New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft wanted back.
Both sides agree that the ring, with its 124 diamonds, changed hands during Kraft’s visit to St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2005.
“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,'” Kraft said, according to the New York Post. “I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out.”
Kraft made the comments at an awards gala Thursday night in New York.
A few days after the incident occurred, amid confusion as to whether the ring was a present or was kept by mistake, Kraft issued a statement that said it was a gift.
That’s the way Putin sees it, the president’s spokesman said Sunday.
“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.”
The 4.94-carat ring is in the Kremlin’s library, where all official state gifts are kept, he said.
Kraft said when he demanded his ring back, the White House intervened and asked him to claim it was a gift to Putin to avoid souring relations with Russia, according to the Post. As a patriot, Kraft says, he played along. The White House has not responded to the claim.
The New England Patriots declined to comment Saturday.
The jewelry is worth more than $25,000, according to multiple reports from 2005, but Kraft said it had sentimental value due to his name being engraved on it.
There is some solace for Kraft, as he also received rings for the Patriots’ Super Bowl victories in the 2001 and 2003 seasons.
Super Bowl rings can fetch much more when they are auctioned, depending on who wore them. The 1991 Super Bowl ring of Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor sold last year at auction for more than $230,000. There were rumors Charlie Sheen bought the ring, but the actor later denied it.
At least one ring has been used to raise money for charity. In 2008, former Patriots defensive player Je’Rod Cherry raffled off one of his three rings to raise $150,000 for several children’s charities.
CNN’s Alla Eshchenko reported from Moscow, and Faith Karimi reported and wrote from Atlanta.