TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys' newest good-luck charm has been attending games on the owner's dime.
Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie attended Sunday's playoff game between his beloved Cowboys and the Detroit Lions as a guest of owner Jerry Jones, Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts said.
"Governor Christie attended the game last night as a guest of Jerry Jones, who provided both the ticket and transportation at no expense to New Jersey taxpayers," Roberts said in a statement.
That travel, he said, included a private jet.
Christie, a potential 2016 presidential contender, hugged Jones after the Cowboys' come-from-behind 24-20 victory over Detroit at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Some people on social media joked that Jones appeared to reject Christie's attempt at a high-five before the embrace. Others said Christie has become a good-luck charm for the Cowboys, who next travel to Green Bay to face the Packers in the divisional playoffs.
Christie, who said he's been a loyal Cowboys fan since he was a child, took to sports radio Monday morning to defend the celebratory move, which has been replayed on TV again and again since the game.
"It was pandemonium in there," Christie said during a call-in to WFAN's "Boomer & Carton" show. "It's difficult to describe the level of intensity in the Jones box during these games. Believe me, I'm sitting in Jerry Jones' box. How do I feel dissed, exactly?"
He also joked that if the New York Mets, another favored team, were ever to win a playoff spot or a playoff game while he was sitting in owner Fred Wilpon's box, he'd be "hugging everything in sight."
The governor said he's hoping to attend next week's game and revealed he's worn the same lucky orange sweater to the five Cowboys games he's attended and his team has won every time.
Christie has taken considerable ribbing about his allegiance to the Cowboys, who are bitter rivals of the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants, teams favored by most New Jersey residents. Sunday's appearance at the game sparked a flood of questions about who had paid for Christie to attend.
Roberts cited an executive order, first established under Democratic former Gov. Jim McGreevey, that states governors "may accept gifts, favors, services, gratuities, meals, lodging or travel expenses from relatives or personal friends that are paid for with personal funds."
Christie is expected to decide early this year whether to move forward with a White House run.
Jones and his wife have made contributions to Republican candidates, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.