One of the gold medals belonging to Olympic medalist Jesse Owens has been auctioned for $1.46 million. Owens won the medal in the 1936 games after one of three relay events. The piece was purchased by Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle. It was rumored that Burkle plans a tour with all of his rare purchases, including the gold medal.
Jesse Owens’ medal had a significant path. After his historic win in Berlin, he gifted the medal to friend Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. The medal was later sold by Owens’ family to an auctioneer. The amount paid for Owens’ medal is reportedly the highest amount paid in auction for any Olympic medal in history.
Owens was the most decorated Olympic athlete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He was the first American track & field athlete to win four gold medals in one Olympiad. Born James Cleveland Owens in Alabama in 1913, Owens enrolled in school and through an error in his teacher’s attendance records, he was mistakenly written in as Jesse (a misprint of J.C., his initials). He was forever recorded as Jesse Owens. Owens began setting track and field records in junior high. By high school, he was meeting and breaking world records in the high jump, including the broad jump, when he accomplished 24 feet, 11 3/4 inches.
Owens worked hard to get through college at Ohio State University. He worked several jobs through practice to support himself and his wife. At the Big Ten championships in 1935, Owens set three new world records. By the time he got to the Berlin Olympics, Owens had set a new standard in track & field, dispelling Adolf Hitler’s theory that the Aryan race was the master of all sports.
It was noted later that Owens hadn’t been acknowledged by President Roosevelt or invited to the White House. He was finally recognized by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1955.