The New England Patriots will square off against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. The Falcons are making just their second appearance in the big game and are looking for their first Super Bowl win in franchise history. The Patriots, meanwhile, are going for their fifth title in the past 16 years.
For Patriots owner Robert Kraft, though, a Super Bowl win would only give him his fourth championship ring. Why? One of his rings is in the possession of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Wait… what? How is this possible?!
Let's jump back to 2005. The Patriots were fresh off their third Super Bowl win in four seasons. Kraft was visiting Russia on a business trip, and ended up visiting Putin. He showed the Russian president his 2004 ring, and, according to a video the NFL released this month, hasn't gotten it back. As Kraft explains:
"(The Super Bowl) rings are all in a drawer except for my third one. The original is in Russia with the president of the country. I happened to be there on a business mission with my friend Sandy Weill. We had just given out our rings. I showed Sandy my ring, and he said, 'Why don't you show it to the president?' And I showed it to him and he put it on, and he sort of just enjoyed it, so he kept it on."
This isn't the first time Kraft has shared this story. At the time, the Bush administration had requested that Kraft say he gave the ring to Putin as a gift, in order to keep a positive light on US-Russia relations.
In 2013, he shared that Putin put the ring on and said, "I can kill someone with this ring." When Kraft stuck his hand out to get the ring back, Putin put it in his own pocket and walked out with three KGB guards surrounding him.
When Kraft told that story a few years back, Putin denied stealing the ring or even having any memory of meeting with Kraft. Nevertheless, he said he would have a replacement ring made.
However, we're more than a decade removed from the pair's meeting, and Kraft is still without his fourth ring. If New England does win Super Bowl LI, hopefully he's less eager to show his championship prize off.