10 Jesse Owens Facts

Here are ten facts about Jesse Owens, the American athlete who won four gold medals at the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936.

  • Jesse Owens was born on September 12th 1913 in Oakville, Alabama (USA).
  • He attended Ohio State University and was known as the ‘Buckeye Bullet’, winning 8 NCAA championships (4 in 1935 and 4 in 1936).

  • Due to racial segregation of the time and the fact that African-Americans were treated as second-rate citizens, Jesse had to live off-campus with the other African-American students. When he was attending athletic events with the Ohio State University team, he had to stay in a ‘black-only’ hotel and eat in a ‘black-only’ restaurant.
  • During an athletics meeting at Ferry Field on May 25th 1935, Jesse Owens set three world records (long jump, hurdles and sprinting) in  45 minutes.
  • Jesse Owens won four gold medals (100m, long jump, 200m and 4x100m relay) at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.
  • Adolph Hitler had planned to use the Berlin Olympic Games to showcase the superiority of the Aryan race. Germany did lead the medals table, but Jesse Owens was the star of the Games.
  • Owens returned to the US after the Olympics. In order to make a living, Jesse raced local sprinters (giving them a head start). He also raced against racehorses.
  • Jesse Owens was made a US Goodwill Ambassador in 1966.
  • Owens met his wife, Minnie, when he was fifteen. They had three daughters, Gloria, Marlene and Beverly.
  • Jesse Owens died in Tuscon, Arizona in 1980. He had smoked all of his life and developed lung cancer. Owens is buried in Chicago in Oak Woods Cemetery.

Jesse Owens