AUGUSTA, Ga. — The green jacket is one of the most revered spoils of victory in sports. Matter of fact, it's so exclusive that the winningest Masters champion in history never actually got his own jacket after any of his six victories.
Jack Nicklaus, the only six-time Masters winner, discussed his personal history with the green jacket on Thursday shortly after striping a ceremonial tee shot down Hole 1 to open the 2014 Masters. Nicklaus won his first Masters in 1963, and when he arrived at the green, The Powers That Be had a 46 long waiting for him.
"It looked like an overcoat," Nicklaus recalled, and you can judge for yourself in the photo above.
(Masters fact: Augusta National has a slew of green jackets ready for whoever the winner might be and eyeballs a fit for the post-tournament ceremony. Learn more wild green jacket facts right here.)
When Nicklaus arrived at Augusta the next year, he assumed he wouldn't have to wear an ill-fitting green jacket, and he was right: in his locker waiting for him was the green jacket of Tom Dewey, former governor of New York best known for the "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline misfire.
"So I put that on, and I won a few more Masters, and no mention [was ever made] of a green jacket," Nicklaus said. "I kept putting Tom Dewey's on."
Dewey passed away in 1971, but his jacket remained in circulation.
Still, after so many years, Nicklaus realized the jacket was starting to fray at the edges. He decided to take matters into his own hands and approached Hart Schaffner & Marx to create his own green jacket. Yes, really.
"I said, 'Could you make me a green jacket, please?' " Nicklaus explained. "I'm afraid to ask Augusta because they don't want to give me one, I guess."
The resulting jacket was a bit off, both in material and color, so Nicklaus went back to Dewey's jacket all the way until 1998. That year, Nicklaus mentioned to former Augusta National chairman Jack Stephens that he'd never actually gotten a green jacket. Sure enough, when Nicklaus next visited his locker, there was a note:
"You will go to the pro shop and you will be fitted for your green jacket."
And there you have it. Nicklaus wears that jacket to this very day.
"I didn't even have to pay for it," he said, laughing.
Tom Dewey's jacket? Still available for use, apparently.
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