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When Jennifer Lopez decided to sing the Neil Diamond classic “Sweet Caroline” at the Global Citizen concert on May 2, it served double duty.

Not only was the tune — the unofficial anthem of the Boston Red Sox — a diss at her recent ex, former Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez. It was also a flirty wink at her long-ago ex, Ben Affleck, who appeared just after her at  the event.

“It was absolutely for Ben! And it also worked to piss off A-Rod,” an Affleck source told The Post.
When Affleck and Lopez — dubbed “Bennifer” at the height of their first relationship, which lasted from 2002 to 2004 — were spotted vacationing together in Montana days later, close pals were shocked by what looks like a rekindling.

“We thought they were just friends,” said the Affleck source. “Even people close to Ben were taken by surprise.”

Then again, a source who knows both Affleck and Lopez told The Post: “She was always obsessed with Ben. They have always loved each other.”

In 2002, Affleck and Lopez were a match made in tabloid heaven. She was the New York glamour puss. He was the low-key Boston guy, into baseball, beer and poker. They met on the set of “Gigli,” with Affleck starring as a hitman and Lopez as an assassin sent to keep him in line.

The movie would prove  to be a flop. But the stars clicked — and became bigger than ever off-screen. Despite the differences in their Hollywood lives, they found compatibility in their backgrounds. Lopez was a working-class kid from the Castle Hill section of the Bronx; Affleck had similar roots in Cambridge, Mass.

“I remember Ben bringing her to a friend’s party,” Lopez’s then-publicist Rob Shuter told The Post. “It was beer and red wine in plastic Solo cups. She sat on a folding chair and loved it. Being J.Lo is complicated and Ben was able to simplify it.”

“The only time you didn’t feel like you were with ‘J.Lo’,” Shuter said of her carefully crafted image, “was when Ben was around.”

Lopez was still married to her second husband, dancer Cris Judd, when she met Affleck. Months later, they were split and Affleck and Lopez were publicly together. It was the era when tabloid magazines like Us Weekly and Star were at their buzziest — and the paparazzi at their craziest. “Bennifer” was the couple of the moment.

Their relationship was fueled by “electricity,” Shuter, author of “The Four Word Answer,”  recalled. “It was the most exciting thing to be around.”

The apex of the relationship came in the summer of 2002, with the filming of Lopez’s “Jenny From the Block” music video — in which the two were seen kissing in a Bentley and laughing at magazine coverage of their romance. Affleck appeared the ultimate doting boyfriend: following J.Lo out of her limo, pumping gas, and literally kissing her butt while the two cruised on a catamaran.

In real life, he also knew how to pay her the kind of attention she craved. Affleck showed up unannounced for a Lopez performance on “Today.” Another time, he surprised her on the red carpet with flowers. She returned the favor by dedicating a song to him, “Dear Ben,” on her “This Is Me … Then” album: “You’re perfect / I just can’t control myself.”

Affleck found his way into the fabric of Lopez’s family. “Ben taught Guadalupe [Lopez’s mom] how to gamble,” recalled Shuter of Affleck, a notorious gambler once banned from a Las Vegas casino for card counting. “And she won a massive sum in Atlantic City.”
Bennifer got engaged in November 2002 with a six-carat pink diamond.

They teamed up for the movie “Jersey Girl,” but the August 2003 release of “Gigli” highlighted cracks in the relationship, as the couple was stuck promoting a stink bomb.

“It almost appeared that they had guns to their heads,” said a photographer who snapped the two at the “Gigli” premiere.

“Ben’s ego is bigger than hers,” said a source who worked with them. “‘Gigli’ tanking was a bigger deal to him and he was jealous of her superstardom. Photographers would see Ben and Jen together and they would ask for Jennifer to stand alone. Ben would step out of the shot but not like it. The photographers would say, ‘J.Lo alone! J.Lo alone!’ But they never asked for Ben to stand alone.”

A brief history of Bennifer 1.0

‘GIGLI’: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez meet on the set of the flop “Gigli” (right) in early 2002. In June of that year, she divorces husband Cris Judd. Rumors swirl about her and Affleck.

©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Eve

CONFIRMED: The co-stars reveal their romance in August 2002, smooching and cruising Los Angeles in J.Lo’s Bentley for a music video.

FameFlynet / BACKGRID

ENGAGED: In November 2002, Affleck proposes with a six-carat pink diamond ring from Harry Winston said to be worth $1.2 million.


VIDEO LOVE: The “Jenny from the Block” video premieres in November 2002 — with Affleck pumping gas and literally kissing J.Lo’s renowned rear end on a boat.


‘JERSEY GIRL’: Affleck and Lopez team up again, for this 2003 movie — yet another box-office bomb. The couple calls off their wedding in the fall, then officially split in January 2004.

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