A spokesman for Vladimir Putin has emphatically denied that the Russian president ever stole a Super Bowl ring from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, days after Kraft originally made the extraordinary allegation.
Putin does currently possess the championship ring made for Kraft when his Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX. Kraft said in 2005 that he gifted the ring to Putin when the two met during a function in St. Petersburg. "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," he said in a statement.
However, Kraft changed his tune at Carnegie Hall’s Medal of Excellence Gala in New York on Thursday night, recounting his interaction with Putin as such: “I took out the ring and showed it to [Putin]... he put it on and he goes, ‘I can kill someone with this ring." When Kraft tried to retrieve the ring, he continued, the Russian president "put it in his pocket," and exited the room with a coterie of "KGB guys."
The George W. Bush White House dissuaded Kraft from trying to retrieve the ring, fearing a diplomatic debacle, Kraft reportedly said.
"What Mr. Kraft is saying now is weird," said Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. "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 ring, which is reportedly worth upwards of $25,000, was one of three Kraft has earned with the Patriots to date.