Robert Kraft is an American business tycoon. He is the chairman and CEO of Kraft Group, a diversified private holding company with businesses in paper, packaging, sports, entertainment, real estate and private equity. Kraft is best known as the owner of successful NFL franchise the New England Patriots which he bought for a record $172 million in 1994. The NFL franchise is now valued at over $3.4 billion, making it the 2nd most valuable franchise in the NFL behind Jerry Jones‘ Dallas Cowboys. He is worth $6.2 Billion.
Kraft has used his NEP profits to expand his sports empire. He owns MLS side New England Revolution and also has a stake in mixed martial arts promotion company UFC. Here is everything you should know about how Robert Kraft built his billions.
See Also: 20 World’s Richest Sports Team Owners
Who Is Robert Kraft’s Girlfriend, Wife, or Daughter?
He is dating Ricki Lander, a dancer turned actress who has been his girlfriend for three years and is half his age.
Robert got married in 1963 to his late wife, Myra Hiatt Kraft who died back in 2011. She was a well known American philanthropist and was popular for her charitable work. She was recognized by Boston Magazine as one of the top 20 Most Powerful Women in Boston. In conjunction with her husband, the pair has donated over $100 million to a good number of charities, especially those that focus on women’s issues, education, athletics, and Israel.
He has a height of 5 feet 7 inches.
Robert Kraft Business Career
Born on June 5, 1941, in Brookline, Massachusetts, Kraft attended Columbia University on an academic scholarship. He graduated in 1963 and received a fellowship at the Harvard Business School where he earned an MBA in 1965. Kraft began his professional business career at his father-in-law Jacob Hiatt’s company the Rand-Whitney Group. The Worcester-based company specializes in converting paper into packaging and containers for numerous products.
In 1968, Kraft, 27, bought over the company through a leveraged buyout. He still serves as the company’s chairman. Kraft in 1972 then founded his own International Forest Products company which trades paper commodities. The Rand-Whitney Group and International Forest Products enjoyed an exponential growth and by the early 90s, it was one of the top packaging exporters in the US. According to a statement by Kraft in 1991, the company does “things for a number of companies, including Avon, Kodak, cosmetics companies, candies, toys.”
The Kraft Group LLC
As his paper business bloomed, Kraft developed interests in other areas. He founded the private holding company the Kraft Group in 1998 to serve as an umbrella for his various interests. Kraft Group is one of the largest and most successful private holding companies in America with operations in over 90 countries. It has over 100 private equity investments. Kraft Group’s real estate arm has developed over $1 billion worth of properties. Its real estate development includes Patriot Place, a $350 million open-air lifestyle and entertainment center around the Gilette Stadium– home to the New England Patriots which he also owns.
Per Forbes Analysis, the Kraft Group had a revenue of $3.5 billion at the end of 2015 fiscal year. The company has at least 5,000 employees.
Robert Kraft Sports Group
Kraft’s early interest in the sports business led to the founding of Kraft Sports Group. While he is best known for his exploits with the NFL’s New England Patriots, it wasn’t his first sports team. Long before his affiliations with the NEP, Kraft alongside 5 other investors bought the Philadelphia Freedoms of World Team Tennis in 1974. After the purchase, the team was relocated to Kraft’s native Boston under the new name Boston Lobsters.
However, Kraft’s ownership of the Tennis side didn’t last as long as he might have liked. Following the league’s financial struggles in the late 1970’s, Kraft decided to shut down the team’s operations. It wasn’t at all a lost, in addition to making money off it, Kraft also learned a lesson about the sports business which helped him achieve impressive success with his next sports franchise.
Kraft said of his short-lived Boston Lobsters ownership;
“We actually were making good money, but you’re only as good as your partners in a league like that, and six or eight teams were losing money….And rather than let the team go bankrupt, I paid every obligation we had and just shut it down. So, that told me something about if you’re going into the sports business, and it’s a partnership, you want to be in a very solid league.”
New England Patriots
An avid football lover, Kraft became a season ticket holder since 1971. He craved ownership of the Pats since the 1980s. His first step at achieving his wish was purchasing a land around the Foxboro stadium, home to the team at the time. Next was purchasing the stadium itself which was in a bankruptcy court for $25 million. The purchase came with the stadium’s lease which Kraft refused to sell on two occasions to subsequent owners who intended to relocate the team.
When its then-owner James Orthwein was running in loss, he agreed to sell the Pats to Kraft for a record $172 million. Kraft’s ownership was hugely supported by fans who made sure season tickets were sold out yearly. Kraft has also managed to keep them happy all the way. All of the Pats’ 5 Super Bowl titles have come under Kraft’s ownership. The team’s current valuation of $3.4 billion has boosted Kraft’s wealth, making him one of the richest NFL team owners.
See Also: Tom Brady Wealth
Kraft has used his NFL profits to expand his sports empire. He owns the Gillette Stadium, the playing ground of the Pats. He also owns MLS side New England Revolution and a stake in mixed martial arts promoter Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Kraft Foods Misconception
Contrary to the popular misconception, Robert Kraft is not connected to Kraft Foods. Kraft Foods was established in 1874 by Canadian entrepreneur James L. Kraft, who is in no way related to Robert Kraft. The grocery manufacturing conglomerate is known for products like Kool-Aid, Oscar Mayer, Cadbury and more.