Robert Kraft was born and raised in Brookline, Massachusetts. His father, Harry, was a dressmaker in Boston’s Chinatown, and an active and respected member of his congregation, Kehillath Israel, in Brookline. It is said that Harry would have been happy if Robert would have become a rabbi, but that is not what was meant to be.
Robert Kraft went to Columbia University, where he became the class president. He played lightweight football while at Columbia. He then went to Harvard where he earned his MBA. He met his wife, Myra Hiatt in Boston in 1962, and they married in June, 1963.
Kraft began his career in business at the Rand-Whitney Group, a packaging company his father-in-law ran. Later he purchased the company in a leveraged buyout. He founded International Forest Products in 1972, and together with Rand-Whitney, Kraft had created the largest privately held paper and packaging company in the US. Kraft said he began the company when he realized that there was soon going to be a huge increase in international communications and transportation, leading to an explosion in global trade in the late 20th century.
Kraft’s other business ventures include shares in New England Television Corp, which took control of WNAC-TV in 1982. One year later Kraft became director of the board. In 1986 Kraft became president of the corporation. In 1992 Kraft sold off his stake in the company for about $25 million.
Kraft is a great sports fan, and has been an owner of several professional teams. In 1974 he went partners with four others to purchase the World Tennis Team, the Boston Lobsters. Kraft’s true sports love is football, and tried several times to purchase the New England Patriots. He owned season tickets since 1971. In 1994 the team was for sale, and Kraft was able to purchase it for $172 million. At the time that was the highest anyone had ever paid for a sports team. Since Kraft purchased the Patriots, the team has had incredible success.
Robert Kraft is a well-known philanthropist. He has donate more than $100 million to a wide variety of causes. He has been a huge supporter of American Football in Israel, and built the professional Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem. In 2017 it was announced that Kraft was donating $6 million to build the first regulation size American football field in Israel.
After the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013 Kraft pledged $100,000 in matching funds to help the victims of the terrorist attack through the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation.