32¢ Jesse Owens
Celebrate the Century – 1930s
Issue Date: September 10, 1998
City: Cleveland, OH
Printed By: Ashton–Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed, engraved
Jesse Owens had already set three world records and tied another prior to the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. To Owens, these games meant more than a chance for additional awards. He would have the chance to perform in front of Adolf Hitler. This would be the opportunity to prove to the Führer that he was the fastest man in the world.
Hitler believed that Germans were the master race, and that European athletes were superior to any in the world, especially to minority athletes. Posters portraying this idea were hanging all over Berlin.
The first event of the games, the shotput, was won by a German. Hitler met with this man to publicly congratulate him. But then Owens won the broad jump, and broke the world and Olympic records in the 200-meter dash. His appearance at the Olympics was completed the next day, when he was a member of the record-breaking 400-meter relay team. Hitler was so embarrassed he refused to meet Owens.
After the Olympics, Owens decided not to become a professional athlete, but to return to college. He spent the rest of his life in the public relations field and as secretary of the Illinois State Athletic Commission.