American businessman Robert Kraft wins $1m Genesis Prize

The New England Patriots owner will use the prize proceeds to fight antisemitism and delegitimisation of Israel


The American businessman Robert Kraft, chief executive of the Kraft Group, has been named this year’s recipient of the Genesis Prize — the “Jewish Nobel Prize”.

The owner of the New England Patriots American Football team will use the $1 million award to fight antisemitism and the delegitimisation of Israel.

Stan Polovets, co-founding chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation, which established the prize, said Mr Kraft “has spent most of his life advocating for a more just society, tolerance and inclusiveness. He is one of the world’s most generous philanthropists whose charitable giving reflects the Jewish value of tikkun olam – repairing the world”.

Mr Kraft is its seventh recipient, following in the footsteps of previous winners such as former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, actor Michael Douglas and sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor.

There was controversy last year when the 2018 Genesis laureate, actor Natalie Portman, refused to attend the prize ceremony in Jerusalem because she did not want to share a platform with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Kraft said the award “amplifies my ability to raise both awareness and additional funds to fight anti-Semitism, attempts to delegitimise Israel and other forms of prejudices. It is important that we continue to support organisations that focus on combatting prejudices by building bridges and uniting people of different backgrounds.”

Larry Summers, a member of the Genesis prize committee and the emeritus president of Harvard University, said: “Robert Kraft’s extraordinary vision and leadership brought enthusiasm and pride to the world of sports. His compassionate philanthropy and the charitable programs funded by the New England Patriots touch many lives in the United States and Israel.

He is an American patriot and a great global citizen firmly connected to his Jewish heritage and devoted to the State of Israel.”

A charity match in Massachusetts in May between Chelsea and Mr Kraft’s team, the New England Revolution, will raise money for projects to combat antisemitism and racism.

This story was updated on 14 January 2019. An earlier version incorrectly identified Mr Kraft as the chief executive of Kraft Foods, which is a separate organisation from the Kraft Group

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