NFL Owners Rain Cash on Trump Inaugural

FEC filings show football’s deepest pockets came up big, picking up nearly 7 percent of the party tab. Maybe Robert Kraft might get his Super Bowl ring back from Putin now?

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

Eight National Football League franchise owners collectively gave millions of dollars to President Donald Trump’s inauguration, new disclosures show.

Among them: Robert Kraft, owner of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, who donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee by way of Kraft Group LLC, according to a Federal Election Commission filing released Wednesday.

Those FEC documents revealed that Trump had dwarfed fundraising for any previous inauguration. With nearly $107 million in contributions, the committee almost doubled the previous record, set by Barack Obama in 2009.

According to the FEC filing, NFL owners’ $7.25 million in contributions represented nearly one of every $15 donated to Trump’s inaugural committee.

The release of the disclosure form happened to come just hours before Kraft and the Patriots visited the White House to meet with the president in honor of their Super Bowl victory.

Trump and Kraft have been close for years. And like some of Trump’s top advisers, Kraft has an interesting history with Russian political leaders: He claims President Vladimir Putin stole his $25,000 Super Bowl ring.

Though he is also reportedly a fan of the president’s, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who will not attend Wednesday’s White House ceremony, did not appear to have donated to the inaugural committee.

But at least seven other NFL owners did.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is also reportedly friends with Trump. He contributed $1 million to the inaugural committee through a company called Gladstone Limited Partnership. Texas incorporation records show Jones is the firm’s president

Dan Snyder, the Washington Redskins’ lightning rod of an owner, also chipped in a million. He was spotted at an exclusive inaugural ball during the weekend’s celebrations where high-dollar donors were invited to meet incoming Trump administration officials.

One franchise owner who reported donating a million, the New York Jets’ Woody Johnson, has already been more handsomely rewarded for his support. In January, Trump tapped Johnson to be the U.S. ambassador to Great Britain.

Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, another million-dollar inauguration donor, was also a generous supporter of Trump’s campaign and a super PAC supporting his presidential bid, though he has not yet been rewarded with an administration post.

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Another Trump campaign supporter, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, also reported donating a million to the inaugural committee. Though a defender of Trump during the presidential race, Khan has been more critical of the president. Pakistani by birth, Khan vocally opposed the president’s ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations.

Other NFL inauguration benefactors have more diversified sports holdings.

Million-dollar-donor Stan Kroenke, owner of the newly relocated Los Angeles Rams, also owns British soccer club Arsenal, the National Basketball Association’s Denver Nuggets, the National Hockey League’s (worst-in-the-league) Colorado Avalanche, and Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers co-owner Ed Glazer, who chipped in $250,000 for the inauguration, is also the director of British soccer powerhouse Manchester United, the world’s top sports franchise in terms of revenue.

The $7.25 million donated to the inauguration by NFL franchise owners represented about 6.7 percent of all money contributed to the inaugural committee.

Funds that were not spent on inauguration celebrations will be donated to yet-to-be-announced charities, the committee said Tuesday.