(CBS) — With two more days to go, the online bidding has risen to more than $330,000, as of Thursday morning, for one of four medals Jesse Owens won at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports it was a monumental achievement not just in sports, but in world history, when the young black runner shattered Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy, by taking four gold medals, with Hitler looking on in fury.
“An African-American son of a sharecropper – grandson of slaves – overcame these incredible circumstances, and delivered a performance for the ages,” said SCP Auctions partner Dan Imler. He said the Owens medal is one of the rarest pieces his auction house has ever featured.
However, Owens’ success in the Olympics did not prevent him from facing financial struggles when he returned home. His job options were limited due to segregation.
He gave one of his medals to dancer and movie star Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, another supremely talented African-American whose career was hemmed in by limited roles for black men. Imler said Robinson’s family is now auctioning off htat medal, and plans to use the proceeds to pay college tuition and give to charity.
Owens moved to Chicago in 1949, and is buried at Oakwood Cemetery.