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Chris Christie and Jerry Jones say they've been friends since September 2013

The timing of their friendship has come under question because Jones partially owns a company that won a contract for a Port Authority project

Jones has treated Christie to a Cowboys game free of charge

CNN —  

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday night that the first time he spoke to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was in the summer of 2013.

In the past, however, he has said otherwise.

Last month, he said the two have known each other for “the last five years.” In June of 2014, he said he first spoke to the Texas billionaire when he was running for governor for the first time in 2009.

Why does it matter?

Normally, it wouldn’t. But when Christie went to the Cowboys playoff game against the Detroit Lions in Dallas earlier this month – remember, the one with THE hug? – his ticket and transportation were paid for by Jones.

As it turns out, Jones partially owns a company that was awarded a Port Authority contract by New Jersey and New York in March 2013.

So that’s why reporters have been trying to nail down just when exactly Christie and Jones started their now famous bromance. Did they meet before or after that contract was awarded?

Christie brushed off ethics concerns as “just craziness” and he maintains that, despite previous statements, the two began their friendship later in 2013, after the contract.

Here’s an exhaustive timeline of the publicly available information on the relationship of Chris Christie, Jerry Jones, the Cowboys and the Port Authority:

2009 - Christie runs for his first term as governor and wins on November 4.

June 14, 2010 - Christie reveals his Cowboys loyalty to sports writer Steve Politi of the Star Ledger.

Q: I have to pin you down on this: Is it true you’re a closet Cowboys fan?

A: “I am. My son is a huge Jets fan, so I’ve become a secondary Jets fan. Listen, I grew up in the early 1970s and became a huge Roger Staubach fan and a Cowboys fan. Believe me, it doesn’t get me anything political around here because the Giants fans hate me, the Eagles fans hate me, it doesn’t matter. But you grow up rooting for a team. That’s just the way it works.”

March 19, 2013 - Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announce that Legends Hospitality, the company partly owned by Jones, is awarded a contract by the Port Authority to build an observation deck at the top of One World Trade Center.

June 19, 2013 - Christie gets jeered after telling a bunch of elementary school students that he’s a Cowboys fan. The story becomes national news.

June 26, 2013 - Christie defends his sports loyalty in an interview with New Jersey 101.5 radio.

Summer 2013 - This is when the governor and Jones first spoke on the phone, according to Christie’s “Ask the Governor” interview on Thursday (January 15, 2015).

“I remember it was the summer of 2013, and we were at the beach house one weekend,” Christie says. ” And I got a call from Jerry Jones and he said, ‘Listen, I can’t believe you’ve been a Cowboys fan all these years. I’m a big supporter of yours. I’m thrilled you’re a Cowboys fan. And I hope we get to meet sometime.’

“And I said ‘Actually I’m going to be coming to Dallas this September to raise money for the Republican National Committee.’ He said, ‘Well if we have a game that weekend, I hope you come’,” Christie recalls.

September 8, 2013 - Christie attends the Cowboys game against the New York Giants in Dallas, where he meets Jones on the field.

June 9, 2014 - This is where things get complicated.

Christie, in an interview with Sports Radio 94WIP Philadelphia, says he and Jerry Jones first spoke on the phone when he was running for governor.

“I got asked about it during the first campaign by a sports reporter who came in to interview me,” Christie says. “So that got out and it got national press that I was a Cowboys fan running for governor of New Jersey, and the next day I got a call from Jerry Jones,” Christie continued, adding that Jones told him “I’m so proud.”

You may be thinking, ‘Wait, I thought he didn’t speak to Jones until 2013?’ as mentioned earlier in this timeline.

We asked Christie’s office about the discrepancy, and they declined to comment.

November 23, 2014 - Christie attends the Cowboys game against the Eagles in Philadelphia and sits with Jones in a private suite.

December 14, 2014 - Christie again defends his Cowboys, this time in an interview with WPG Talk Radio.

December 21, 2014 - Christie and his family go to the Cowboys game against the Indianapolis Colts in Dallas.

December 22, 2014 - In an interview with NJTV’s Steve Adubato, Christie says he’s “become friends with Jerry over the last five years.”

January 4, 2015 - Christie is seen on camera celebrating the Cowboys victory against the Detroit Lions in Dallas. Overcome with excitement, Christie and Jones have their now widely seen bear hug.

January 5, 2015 - Christie spends a good chunk of the day defending himself against ribbing from Dallas haters via social media. His fandom becomes national news again, especially given his prospects as a potential presidential contender.

It’s also revealed that Jones paid for Christie’s ticket and transportation to the game. The governor’s office says it was legal under a policy that says the governor “may accept gifts, favors, services, gratuities, meals, lodging or travel expenses from relatives or personal friends that are paid for with personal funds.”

January 6, 2015 - Questions arise after the Wall Street Journal and the International Business Times report that Jones had ties to the Port Authority through his company, Legends Hospitality.

CNN: Democrats mull ethics probe over Christie’s Cowboys hug

January 7, 2014 - Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts says the governor’s friendship with Jones “started in the summer of 2013.”

“Whether they first met or spoke in 2010 or 2011 in a passing way, I can’t account for that,” he adds.

Rich Dalrymple, a spokesman for the Cowboys, also says Christie and Jones met at a Dallas football game in 2013 after Jones learned of Christie’s love for the Cowboys that summer. “Their relationship is totally based on the governor’s following the Dallas Cowboys–there is nothing political about it at all,” Dalrymple tells the Wall Street Journal.

January 11, 2015 - Christie attends the Cowboys playoff game against the Green Bay Packers in Wisconsin. He sits with Jones again but Christie’s office says that Christie paid for his own ticket and transportation this time.

January 15, 2015 - Christie says on NJ101.5 that he first spoke to Jones in the summer of 2013 and the two met a few months later in September when he attended the Cowboys vs. Giants game in Dallas.

CNN’s Chris Frates contributed to this report.