New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was awarded the “Jewish Nobel” on Wednesday and is said to be donating the million-dollar award to charity combating anti-Semitism.
Israel’s Genesis Prize recognizes someone who is considered an inspiration to the next generation of Jews through professional achievement and commitment to Jewish values.
This year’s award was given to the 77-year-old billionaire, who has long supported the Israeli government and has donated to various causes there.
He is also said to be a good friend of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Kraft is the founder, chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group, the holding company of the Kraft family's diversified portfolio of businesses, which includes one of the largest privately owned paper and packaging conglomerates in the world. He derives much of his fame, though, from his ownership of the five-time Super Bowl champion Patriots, one of the most successful franchises in American sports.
"I am honored to receive the Genesis Prize and thank the Genesis Prize Foundation for its recognition and willingness to direct my prize money to such worthy causes," said Kraft. "It is important that we continue to support organizations that focus on combatting prejudices by building bridges and uniting people of different backgrounds."
He's also primarily responsible for the growth of American football in Israel in recent years. He's sponsored the sport since it was launched in 1999, and there are now more than 2,000 active players on more than 80 teams playing at various levels.
In 2017, he dedicated the Kraft Sports Complex in Jerusalem, including Israel's first full-size football field. The visit coincided with his second mission to bring Pro Football Hall of Fame players to Israel, where the game has resonated with native-born Israelis who have taken a liking to the army-like strategy, camaraderie and collisions.
The trip included Joe Montana, Jim Brown, Roger Staubach, Mike Singletary and other legendary former players. Tom Brady and other Patriots stars have also visited over the years.
Previous prize winners have included former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, actor Michael Douglas and actress Natalie Portman, who snubbed the event last year because she did not want to appear to be endorsing Netanyahu.
Kraft is set to receive the award from Netanyahu in Jerusalem in June.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.