50 Interesting Facts About Jesse Owens

Last updated on April 18th, 2022

45. Jesse Owens changed the world by completing the 100 meter race at the 1936 Berlin Olympics in 10.3 seconds. This event was replayed in a movie in which Stephan James played the onscreen character of Owens.

46. Jesse was hailed as a hero in both the United States and Germany, not only for his athletic feats but also for the fact that he could compete in the Olympics with the Nazi party watching.

47. In 1935, Jesse had set the long jump world record with a leap of 26 feet 8 inches. It took almost 25 years before the record was broken by an American countryman, Ralph Boston, in the year 1960.

48. Few people are aware of the fact that Jesse Owens inspired Carl Lewis who repeated the feat of winning four gold medals in the Los Angeles Olympics that was hosted in 1984. However, numerous positive drug tests mar the entire Olympic career of Carl, which includes his outstanding performance in 1984.

49. During his training, Owens was taught to run as if the track were on fire and could burn his feet if he left them on the track too long. He was inundated with university offers but opted for Ohio State University. His new coach was Larry Snyder.

Jesse Owens facts file
Image credit – Natalia Wilson

50. Jesse Owens, a heavy smoker, succumbed to lung cancer on 31 March 1980 in Tucson, Arizona at the age of 66. A street in Berlin was renamed after his honor four years later. Owens was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1990.

Jesse Owens – quotes

1. “One chance is all you need.”

2. “Find the good. It’s all around you. Find it, showcase it and you’ll start believing it.”

3. “Friendships are born on the field of athletic strife and the real gold of competition. Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust.”

4. “We all have dreams. In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.”

5. “We used to have a lot of fun. We never had any problems. We always ate. The fact that we didn’t have steak? Who had steak?”

6. “For a time, at least, I was the most famous person in the entire world.”

7. “It all goes so fast, and character makes the difference when it’s close.”

8. “It’s like having a pet dog for a long time. You get attached to it, and when it dies you miss it.” * –on his world records being beaten

9. “Every morning, just like in Alabama, I got up with the sun, ate my breakfast even before my mother and sisters and brothers, and went to school, winter, spring, and fall alike to run and jump and bend my body this way and that for Mr. Charles Riley.”

10. “I’d noticed him watching me for a year or so, especially when we’d play games where there was running or jumping.” * –on junior high track coach Charles Riley

11. “I fought, I fought harder . . . but one cell at a time, panic crept into my body, taking me over.” * –on almost not qualifying for the Olympic finals in long jump

12. “I decided I wasn’t going to come down. I was going to fly. I was going to stay up in the air forever.” * –on his final leap in long-jump competition, a record-breaking 26 feet, 5 and 5/16 inches

13. “It dawned on me with blinding brightness. I realized: I had jumped into another rare kind of stratosphere – one that only a handful of people in every generation are lucky enough to know.” * –on his Olympic achievements

Jesse Owens – Quick facts and statistics

Born12 September 1913, Oakville, Alabama, United States
Died31 March 1980, Tucson, Arizona, United States
NicknamesThe Buckeye Bullet,
Resting placeOak Woods Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois, United States.
Field of WorkTrack and Field
CoachLarry Snyder
Height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
AwardsAssociated Press Male Athlete of the Year (1936)
EducationEast Technical High School

The Ohio State University
ParentsFather: Henry Cleveland Owens
Mother: Mary Emma Fitzgerald
SiblingBrothers: Prentice, Johnson, Henry, Ernest, Quincy and Sylvester Owens.

Sisters: Ida, Josephine and LillieOwens.
SpousesMinnie Ruth Solomon (m. 1935–1980)
ChildrenBeverly Owens, Gloria Owens, Marlene Owens
In films1. Race
2. The Jesse Owens Story
3. Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin
and more.
Net Worth150,000 USD