It's heard after every Super Bowl, NBA Championship, World Series, etc and then last night the great Michael Phelps reminded us during an interview with Mark Spitz after winning his 7th Beijing Gold Medal--"...they can never take it away..."
Based on the frequency that I hear this phrase, I'd think we live in some dictatorship where the evil government indiscriminately "takes things away" at will.
And it seems odd that so often the people who exclaim, "They can never take this away," are people at the very top of the economic strata--people of unbelievable means. As if someone wanted to take something away from a millionaire could easily do it legally or through their elaborate security system.
And true they can't take it away (because possession is 9/10 of the law), but they can get disputed and tarnished. Just ask, Marion Jones, Ben Johnson and the 1919 Chicago White Sox to name a few. So they may not be able to take it away, but the value can certainly drop like a brick from a 17th story window.
So let me suggest some more realistic translations:
"Hey, if I screw up later and lose all my stuff to tax evasion or bankruptcy, at least I'll have this."
"Glad to win today--and just so you all know, if I make a huge moral mistake down the road and everyone thinks I'm a jerk, I'll still have this title!"
Hey--I have an idea! This would be a great line for high school and college grads to use as they receive their diploma.
"Thank-you so much, Dr. So-n-so. They can never take this away!"
Dr. So-n-so looks confused and shakes hand anyway...