Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is once again in an uncomfortable spotlight over the gifts he has received.
Attentions have turned to a Super Bowl ring given to Thomas by the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, apparently in 1994. That ring, dating from a star-studded era when the NFL franchise was still known as America’s Team, could be worth $100,000 or more , one expert tells the Dallas Morning News.
One important distinction between this gift and the other one that Thomas has been taking fire for from critics: disclosure. While it’s unclear exactly when Jones gave Thomas the ring, the justice did disclose it on his 1994 ethics form, the Morning News says, citing an AP story from 1995. (That story is no longer online and the form is no longer available for inspection, as the Court used to only keep the forms for a few years. At present, nothing before 1998 is accessible.)
Thomas is a longtime Cowboys fan, declaring his love for the team during his confirmation hearings, telling then-Senator Joe Biden “I’ve been a Dallas Cowboys fan for 25 years.”
Thomas and Jones have had a long-running friendship. A New York Times report on donations to Thomas notes Thomas has attended the Cowboys training camp, sat in the owner’s box when the Cowboys played in DC, and flown on Jones’s private jet.
The value of a Super Bowl ring often depends on who’s selling it. Former players sometimes put their rings up for auction. When that happens, bidding prices tend to run close to or above $100,000. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft once sold his Super Bowl LI ring for charity, with the winning bidder paying more than $1 million.
While every player on the winning team gets a ring, the owners can also offer rings to anyone they want, since they often share a portion of the cost of the rings’ production.
Thomas’s ownership of one might normally not be an issue, since it was disclosed. The Justice, however, has been in a maelstrom of controversy of late, following a ProPublica report that Thomas and his wife traveled through Indonesia aboard billionaire Harlan Crow’s 162-foot yacht, vacationed almost every summer at his luxurious New York resort, and flew on his private plane around the world on trips worth hundreds of thousands of dollars—all secretly. None of those trips, nor several other gifts, were disclosed on Thomas’ annual financial disclosure forms.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com
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