Donald Trump explains the story behind the letter he received from Bill Belichick before the election

Here's the backstory to the surprising letter, according to the president.

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President Donald Trump shakes hands with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during a ceremony Wednesday on the South Lawn of the White House. —Andrew Harnik / AP

During the Patriots’ honorary White House ceremony Wednesday afternoon, President Donald Trump shared the story behind the surprising letter he received from Bill Belichick before last November’s election.

According to Trump, the Patriots coach actually wrote him two letters.

As Trump tells it, Belichick first wrote to him shortly after he got through the Republican presidential primaries.

“So I had won the primaries, and I’m now in this rather heated election that a few of you have read about,” Trump said Wednesday. “And [Belichick] wrote me this beautiful letter after the primaries —  ‘Congratulations’ —  he said all sorts of things that were really good. I mean, it was really a beautiful letter.”

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So as the November election neared, Trump said he called Belichick back to ask him if he could read the letter at a rally. Indeed, the candidate had scheduled an election eve rally at an arena in the battleground state of New Hampshire.

“I called up, and I said, ‘Coach, do you mind if I read the letter tonight to a stadium full of people in a very, very big and important state?'” Trump recalled.

However, Belichick hesitated at that notion.

“I’d rather not have you do that,” he said, according to Trump. “Could you send it back to me? I’m going to give you another [letter].”

Trump said he worried that meant the usually press-averse coach would tone down the language of the original letter, which he said “was so nice.” But in this case, he was wrong.

“You know what he did? He toned it way up,” Trump said of the letter, which he went on to read in front of thousands of supporters in Manchester — sending New England media into a frenzy.

“It was much better. It was much better. He made that the greatest letter, and I did very well in that state.”

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Trump narrowly lost New Hampshire to Hillary Clinton.

“Thank you, Coach,” the president said Wednesday. “That was very good.”

Following the election, Belichick confirmed that he had written the letter, but said it was not meant to be a political statement.

“Our friendship goes back many years, and I think that anybody who’s spent more than five minutes with me knows I’m not a political person,” he said at a press conference.

Here’s the transcript of Belichick’s letter, as Trump read it at his rally in November.

“Congratulations on a tremendous campaign. You have dealt with an unbelievable slanted and negative media and have come out beautifully. Beautifully. You’ve proved to be the ultimate competitor and fighter. Your leadership is amazing. I have always had tremendous respect for you but the toughness and perseverance you have displayed over the past year is remarkable. Hopefully tomorrow’s election, results will give the opportunity to make America great again. Best wishes for great results tomorrow, Bill Belichick.”

Watch Trump tell his story of how Belichick’s letter came to be below: