When the team that you own has won five Super Bowls, billionaire status is expected — and Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, doesn’t disappoint. According to Forbes, Kraft is worth $6.6 billion, partially thanks to the $172 million he spent to purchase the team back in 1994. He also owns the New England Revolution, a team in the MLS, and is part owner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Kraft amassed his wealth through the paper manufacturing industry. Money.com reports that his first paper manufacturing company was called Rand-Whitney, and it turned paper into packaging products. He would later add five paper companies to his conglomerate, alongside several other business entities — like the Patriots, for example.
According to his bio on the Patriots website, Kraft was a passionate New England fan, and bought the team for a very personal reason.
“My objective in buying the Patriots is to help bring a championship to New England,” he said.
As the team website notes, that seemed like a pipe dream in the early 1990s. Anyone watching the Patriots’ performance at that time probably would not have predicted the years of Super Bowl dominance that would come. Before Kraft bought the team, they had won less than 20 out of 80 games — and had never made the playoffs in a five-year period. Furthermore in the 34 years of their existence before Kraft, they had only won 229 games.
So, how did Kraft change the Patriots’ fortunes? According to his bio, it was his commitment to winning that made a big difference in the morale of the team and the fans. In 1994, the Patriots got to their first playoff game in 8 seasons.
As he said in an interview with ESPN in 2014:
“After the love of my family, there’s nothing more important to me than winning football games. And I will do whatever I have to do to put this team in position to do that.”
In the year 2000, Robert Kraft hired Bill Belichick to be the team’s head coach. Belichick had worked with the team before — under their former head coach and his mentor Bill Parcels, Biography notes. But Belichick would return on his own and take the team to five Super Bowl wins. Belichick would develop the career of a young quarterback named Tom Brady, whose skill and renowned discipline would anchor the Patriots as they continued to rack up successes.
Love him or hate him, Robert Kraft has etched his name into football history. His legacy will be even greater if the Patriots win the Vince Lombardi trophy for the sixth time tonight.