Olympic Scandal and Controversey

1936 Berlin Olympics--Jesse Owens

Scandal Overview

At the 1936 Berlin Olymic Games, Hitler planned to show off the superiority of the Aryan race. Jesse Ownens, an African American athlete, spoiled Hitler's plan. He was the most successful athlete at the Games. He was the first American to win four track and field events at one olympics.

Medals Won at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

1936 Olympic Games

Hitler and the Nazis wanted to show off the Aryan race at the Olympics. He criticized America for having black athletes on their teams. However, America's sucess was due in part to African American athletes. America won 11 gold medals six of which were won by African Americans. Jesse Owens was the most successful athlete at the games. He won four gold medals and broke two Olympic records. Hitler was furious after Owens won 100m and stormed out of the stadium. Some reports say that Hitler congratulated him afterward on his success.


One of the most famous Jesse Owens quotes tied together his experience at the Olympics in Germany and the issue of segregation back home in the United States. "When I came back to my native country, after all the stories about Hitler, I couldn't ride in the front of the bus," he said. "I had to go to the back door. I couldn't live where I wanted. I wasn't invited to shake hands with Hitler, but I wasn't invited to the White House to shake hands with the president, either."

Fun Facts

  • Jesse Owens retired at age 23.
  • At the Olympics, he became friends with German athlete Luz Long.
  • Owens said that the president had ignored him, not Hitler, because FDR didn’t send him a telegram.
  • To make money after the games, he earned money by racing against horses.