Jesse Owens' 1936 Gold Medal Sells for Record $1.4 Million

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In an online auction yesterday, one of the four gold medals Jesse Owens won in the 1936 Berlin Olympics netted $1.4 million. The auction's winner, Ron Burkle, is co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins and a billionaire collector in Los Angeles. (He also has William Faulkner's Nobel Prize). The $1.4 million bid is the highest for a piece of Olympic memorabilia ever.

In garnering four Olympic medals, Jesse Owens shattered Hitler's myths of Aryan supremacy (on Hitler's home turf, no less) at a time when segregation and discrimination was still rampant in the USA. His feat remains one of the greatest individual athletic accomplishments of all time. Owens was from Cleveland.

He won gold in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, 400-meter relay and long jump. It's unclear to which event this medal belonged. What is known is that Owens gave the medal to his friend, the black entertainer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, and was auctioned as part of the estate of Robinson's widow.

Via the Associated Press, the Robinson family plans to donate some of the proceeds to the Jesse Owens foundation and will use some for college tuition.

Here's a video from the auction house:

About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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