Robert Kenneth Kraft (born June 5, 1941) is an American
businessman. He is the chairman and chief executive officer of the
Kraft Group, a diversified holding company with assets in paper and
packaging, sports and entertainment, real estate development and a
private equity portfolio. His sports holdings include: the National
Football League's New England Patriots, Major League Soccer's New
England Revolution and the stadium in which both teams play, Gillette
Stadium. In 2017, Kraft bought a stake in Blizzard Entertainment's
Overwatch League and started the Boston Uprising.
1 Early life
2 Business career
3 Sports teams
3.1 Boston Lobsters and early bids for sports teams
3.2 New England Patriots
5 Personal life
6 Awards and honors
8 External links
Kraft was born in Brookline, Massachusetts. His father – Harry
Kraft, a dress manufacturer in Boston's Chinatown – was a Jewish lay
leader at Congregation Kehillath
Israel in Brookline and wanted his
son to become a rabbi. The Krafts were an observant Orthodox Jewish
family. Robert grew up in Brookline, where he attended the Edward
Devotion School and in 1959, he graduated from Brookline High
School, where he was senior class president. During high
school, Kraft was unable to participate in most sports because it
interfered with his after-school Hebrew studies and observance of the
Kraft attended Columbia University, where he served as class
president. While at Columbia, Kraft joined
Zeta Beta Tau
Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity
and played running back and safety on the school's freshman and
lightweight football teams. On February 2, 1962, Kraft
met Myra Hiatt at a delicatessen in Boston's Back Bay. They married
in June 1963. That same year, Kraft graduated from Columbia, and
in 1965, received an MBA from Harvard Business School.
At the age of 27, Kraft was elected chairman of the Newton Democratic
City Committee. He considered running against Massachusetts's 3rd
congressional district Representative
Philip J. Philbin
Philip J. Philbin in 1970, but
chose not to, citing the loss of privacy and strain on his family
entering politics would have caused. He was further discouraged from
entering politics by the suicide of his friend, State Representative
H. James Shea, Jr.
Kraft began his professional career with the Rand-Whitney Group, a
Worcester-based packaging company run by his father-in-law Jacob
Hiatt. In 1968, he gained control of the company through a
leveraged buyout. He still serves as this company's chairman. In
1972, he founded International Forest Products, a trader of physical
paper commodities. The two combined companies make up the largest
privately held paper and packaging companies in the United States.
Kraft has stated that he started the company out of a hunch that the
increase in international communications and transportation would lead
to an expansion of global trade in the late twentieth century.
International Forest Products became a top 100 US exporters/importer
in 1997 and in 2013 was ranked No. 20 on the Journal of Commerce's
list in that category. Kraft said of the business in 1991
that, "We do things for a number of companies, including Avon, Kodak,
cosmetics companies, candies, toys." The company produced both
corrugated and folding cartons, which he stated, "are used to package
everything from the Patriot missile, to mints, to Estee Lauder,
Indiana Glass and Polaroid." Kraft acquired interests in other
areas, and ultimately formed the
Kraft Group as an umbrella for them
Kraft was an investor in New England Television Corp., which gained
control of WNAC-TV in 1982, and Kraft became a director of the
board in 1983. The station then became WNEV-TV. In 1986, he was named
president of the corporation. In 1991, Kraft exercised his option
to unload his shares for an estimated $25 million.
Boston Lobsters and early bids for sports teams
In 1974, Kraft and five others purchased the Boston Lobsters of World
Team Tennis (WTT). The group spent heavily to lure a number of top
players, including Martina Navratilova, and the Lobsters became one of
the best teams in WTT. Following the 1978 season, Kraft announced that
the franchise would fold. The league itself folded soon
After the Lobsters folded, Kraft twice tried to purchase the New
England Patriots. First, in 1988, Kraft tried to purchase the team
from the bankrupt Sullivan family that owned the team. He was also
mentioned as a bidder for the
Boston Red Sox
Boston Red Sox and the Boston
New England Patriots
Kraft at a Patriots-Raiders game in 2008
New England Patriots
Columbia University (BA)
Harvard University (MBA)
New England Patriots
New England Patriots (1994–present) (Owner)
Career highlights and awards
Super Bowl champion (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX, LI)
9× AFC champion (1996, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2014, 2016,
Theodore Roosevelt Award
A Patriots fan since their
American Football League
American Football League days, Kraft has
been a season ticket holder since 1971, when the team moved to the
then-Schaefer Stadium. In 1985, Kraft bought a 10-year option on
Foxboro Raceway, a horse track adjacent to the stadium. The purchase
prevented Patriots owner Billy Sullivan from holding non-Patriot
events at Sullivan Stadium while races were being held. Kraft took
advantage of the fact that the Sullivans owned the stadium, but not
the surrounding land. It was the beginning of a quest to not only buy
the stadium, but the Patriots as well. Sullivan's family was
reeling from a series of bad investments, principally The Jackson Five
1984 Victory Tour, for which they had to pledge Sullivan Stadium as
collateral. Those problems ultimately forced Sullivan to sell
controlling interest to
Victor Kiam in 1988. However, the stadium
lapsed into bankruptcy.
In 1988, Kraft outbid several competitors, including Kiam, to buy the
stadium out of bankruptcy court from Sullivan for $22 million. The
stadium was considered to be outdated and nearly worthless, but the
purchase included the stadium's lease to the Patriots, which ran
through 2001. The lease was ironclad enough to end Sullivan's
three-decade involvement with the Patriots. When he and Kiam tried to
move the team to Jacksonville, Kraft refused to let them break the
lease. As a result, when Kiam was nearly brought down by bad
investments of his own, he was forced to sell the Patriots to James
Ever since Orthwein had bought the team in 1992, there had been
constant rumors that he wanted to move the Patriots to St. Louis. In
1994, Orthwein offered Kraft $75 million to buy out the remainder of
the team's lease at what was now Foxboro Stadium. Had Kraft accepted
Orthwein's offer, it would have cleared the last significant hurdle to
moving the team. However, Kraft turned it down.
By 1994, Orthwein was not interested in operating the team in New
England long-term, and decided to sell it. Due to the terms of the
operating covenant, any prospective buyers had to deal with Kraft.
With this in mind, Kraft made an offer for an outright purchase of the
team for $172 million, which Orthwein accepted. At the time, it was
the highest price ever paid for an NFL team. Years later, Kraft
said his passion for the Patriots led him to "break every one of my
financial rules" in his pursuit of the team. Kraft has stated he keeps
a Victory Tour poster among his mementos as a reminder of what allowed
him to realize his longstanding dream of becoming a major league team
Following the NFL's approval of the sale, the Patriots sold out their
entire 1994 season – the first full sellout in franchise history.
Every home game – including preseason, regular season, and playoffs
– has been sold out ever since.
Kraft (left), with President
George W. Bush
George W. Bush and
Bill Belichick during
the Patriots' visit to the White House in 2004
In 1998, Kraft considered moving the Patriots to Hartford Connecticut,
based on an offer that the state of Connecticut would finance a new
stadium in downtown Hartford. On April 30, 1998, Kraft terminated the
deal just before it would become binding, choosing to instead build a
new stadium in Foxboro with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
In 2002, a $350-million stadium for the Patriots was privately
financed by Kraft, initially called the
CMGI Field (later renamed
Gillette Stadium). In 2007, Kraft began to develop the land around
Gillette Stadium, creating a $375-million open-air shopping and
entertainment center called Patriot Place. The development included
"The Hall at
Patriot Place presented by Raytheon," a multi-story
museum and hall of fame attached to the stadium, and the "
a CBS-themed restaurant.
Under Kraft's ownership, the Patriots experienced newfound and
sustained success. While the Patriots appeared in
Super Bowl XX under
their original owners, the Sullivans, this was one of only six playoff
appearances in 34 years. Since Kraft bought the team, however, they
have made the playoffs 18 times in 23 years. They won
AFC East titles
in 1996, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011,
2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017; they represented the AFC in
Super Bowl that concluded each of the following seasons: 1996
(lost), 2001 (won), 2003 (won), 2004 (won), 2007 (lost), 2011 (lost),
2014 (won), 2016 (won), and 2017 (lost). The Patriots finished the
2003, 2004, 2010, and 2016 seasons with identical 14–2
regular-season records – after having never won more than 11 games
prior to Kraft buying the team – and finished the 2007 regular
season at 16-0 before losing to the
New York Giants
New York Giants in Super Bowl
Kraft was principally involved in the 2011 NFL labor negotiations.
NFLPA representative and
Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday
praised Kraft for his role in the negotiations, stating, "without him,
this deal does not get done... He is a man who helped us save
Kraft again, with President Bush in 2005
In 2005, it was reported that Russian President
Vladimir Putin had
taken one of Kraft's three
Super Bowl rings. Kraft quickly issued a
statement saying that he had given Putin the ring out of "respect and
admiration" he had for the Russian people and Putin's leadership.
Kraft later said his earlier statement was not true, and had been
issued under pressure from the White House. The ring
is on display with state gifts at the Kremlin.
In 1996 Kraft founded the New England Revolution, a charter member of
Major League Soccer
Major League Soccer which began playing alongside the Patriots at
In November 2005, Kraft met with Rick Parry, the Chief Executive of
Premier League team Liverpool. Kraft was rumored to be
interested in investing money into the 2004–05 Champions League
winners. Kraft told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Liverpool is a great brand and
it's something our family respects a lot. We're always interested in
opportunities and growing, so you never know what can happen."
Eventually, however, the club was sold to American duo George Gillett
and Tom Hicks. Liverpool is now owned by Fenway Sports Group,
owners of fellow Boston-based sport team, the Boston Red Sox.
In October 2017, Kraft said he was "still intrigued" by the
possibility of buying a
Premier League football club, but that he was
concerned about the lack of a salary cap in UK football.
In 2017, Kraft was named the Honorary Chairman of the Board of
Directors for the joint Canadian-Mexican-American bid for the 2026
FIFA World Cup.
Blizzard Entertainment announced in July 2017 that Kraft bought
ownership in the Boston Uprising, one of the first seven teams for the
professional eSports Overwatch League. They will be playing in
Season 1 of the Overwatch League. Preseason for the league began
December 6, 2017, and the regular season started on January 10,
The Krafts have donated over $100 million to a variety of
philanthropic causes including education, child- and women-related
issues, healthcare, youth sports and American and Israeli causes.
In 1990 Kraft, his wife, and his father-in-law funded a joint
Brandeis University and Holy Cross College,
forming the Kraft-Hiatt endowed chairs in comparative religion – the
first inter-religious endowed chairs in the United States.
In 2011, the Krafts pledged $20 million to
Partners HealthCare to
launch the Kraft Family National Center for Leadership and Training in
Community Health, an initiative designed to improve access to
quality healthcare at community health centers throughout New England.
Among the many institutions the Krafts have supported are Columbia
University, Harvard Business School, Brandeis University, The College
of the Holy Cross, Boston College, Tufts University, the Belmont Hill
School, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, and the Dana Farber
Cancer Institute in Boston. In 2007, in recognition of a gift of $5
million in support of Columbia's intercollegiate athletics program,
the playing field at Columbia's Lawrence A. Wien Stadium at the Baker
Field Athletics Complex was named Robert K. Kraft Field.
One of their most distinctive projects is supporting American Football
Israel, including Kraft Family Stadium in
Jerusalem and the Kraft
Israel Football League. In 2017 Kraft announced a contribution
of $6 million to build the first ever regulation size American
football field in Israel. In June 2017, Robert Kraft, along with
several NFL Hall of Famers, traveled to
Israel for the grand opening
of the new Kraft Family Sports Campus.
He has received numerous honorary degrees from several colleges and
universities and was awarded the NCAA's highest honor when he received
the Theodore Roosevelt Award, "presented annually to a
distinguished citizen of national reputation and outstanding
In 2011, Kraft was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and
In 2012, he became the first NFL owner in the 43-year history of the
honor to be selected for the
George Halas Award by the Pro Football
Writers of America. The award is presented annually to the NFL
player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to
Following the April 15, 2013, Boston Marathon bombings, Kraft
announced he would match up to $100,000 in donations made for the
victims through the
New England Patriots
New England Patriots Charitable Foundation.
In June 1963, Kraft married Myra Nathalie Hiatt, a 1964 graduate of
Brandeis University and the daughter of the late Worcester,
Massachusetts businessman and philanthropist Jacob Hiatt. She died
from ovarian cancer, aged 68, on July 20, 2011. The Krafts were
members of Temple Emanuel in Newton, Massachusetts. In her memory,
all Patriots players wore a patch on their uniforms bearing Kraft's
initials (MHK) throughout the 2011–2012 season. They had four
Jonathan A. Kraft, born March 4, 1964, president of The Kraft Group
and the New England Patriots
Daniel A. Kraft, president of International Forest Products founded in
1972 by his father
Joshua Kraft, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of
In June 2012, Kraft began dating actress Ricki Noel Lander. In
July 2012, Kraft assisted Lander in creating an audition video for a
role in The Internship, a then-upcoming Vince Vaughn/
Owen Wilson film.
In the video, Kraft reads Wilson's lines for a bikini-clad Lander,
dances briefly, curses, and throws a punch at another actor. After an
anonymously supplied copy of the video was hosted on the Barstool
Sports website, it went viral and became a subject of commentary on
late-night television. Kraft issued a statement saying "I tried to
help Ricki prepare an audition tape ... I never intended that it
would be made public and I regret that it has. I think we can all
Owen Wilson has nothing to worry about. I am going to stick
to my day job."
Awards and honors
Columbia University John Jay Award
Super Bowl champion – XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX, LI (as
owner of the New England Patriots)
Alexander Hamilton Medal
2006 Theodore Roosevelt Award
George Halas Award
Carnegie Hall Medal of Excellence Award
Football field named "
Robert Kraft Field" in his honor at Columbia
2015 honorary doctorate in humane letters from Yeshiva
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Robert Kraft (businessman).
New England Patriots
New England Patriots biography
New England Revolution
New England Revolution biography
The Kraft Group
Forbes 2011: The 400 Richest Americans: #263 Robert Kraft
Forbes 2008: The 500 Largest American Private Companies: #326 The
Forbes 2011: The World's Billionaires: #833 Robert Kraft
Principal Owner of the New England Patriots
Recipient of the Theodore Roosevelt Award
New England Revolution
CSN New England
Major honors (1)
U.S. Open Cup
Major League Soccer
Theodore Roosevelt Award winners
1971: Kraft Jr.
1988: Not presented
2003: de Varona
New England Patriots
Founded in 1960
Formerly the Boston Patriots (1960–70)
Based and headquartered in Foxborough, Massachusetts
Hall of Fame
First-round draft picks
"I'm Shipping Up to Boston"
"3 Acts of God"
"Stunning and Brave" (South Park episode)
St. Louis Stallions
Tuck Rule Game
2007 game vs. New York Giants
New York Jets
Division championships (20)
Conference championships (10)
League championships (5)
Current league affiliations
National Football League
National Football League (1970–present)
Conference: American Football Conference
Division: East Division
Former league affiliation
American Football League
American Football League (1960–1969)
Championship seasons in bold
New England Patriots
New England Patriots owners
Billy Sullivan (1959–1988)
Victor Kiam (1988–1991)
James Orthwein (1992–1994)
Robert Kraft (1994– )
Current owners of the National Football League
American Football Conference
Kim Pegula (Buffalo Bills)
Stephen M. Ross
Stephen M. Ross (Miami Dolphins)
Robert Kraft (New England Patriots)
Woody Johnson (New York Jets)
Steve Bisciotti (Baltimore Ravens)
Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals)
Dee Haslam (Cleveland Browns)
Rooney family (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Bob McNair (Houston Texans)
Jim Irsay (Indianapolis Colts)
Shahid Khan (
KSA Industries (Tennessee Titans)
Pat Bowlen (Denver Broncos)
Clark Hunt (Kansas City Chiefs)
Alex Spanos (Los Angeles Chargers)
Mark and Carol Davis (Oakland Raiders)
National Football Conference
Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys)
John Mara and
Steve Tisch (New York Giants)
Jeffrey Lurie (Philadelphia Eagles)
Daniel Snyder (Washington Redskins)
Virginia Halas McCaskey (Chicago Bears)
Martha Firestone Ford (Detroit Lions)
Green Bay Packers, Inc.
Green Bay Packers, Inc. (governed by a Board of Directors) (Green Bay
Zygi Wilf (Minnesota Vikings)
Arthur Blank (Atlanta Falcons)
Jerry Richardson (Carolina Panthers)
Gayle Benson (New Orleans Saints)
Glazer Family (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Bill Bidwill (Arizona Cardinals)
Stan Kroenke (Los Angeles Rams)
John and Denise York (San Francisco 49ers)