Jesse Owens
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Jesse Owens auction items include Presidential Medal of Freedom

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Jesse Owens‘ Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal are up for sale, expected to garner six figures each by the end of an ongoing SCP auction on Saturday.

“Our family has cherished the items in this collection for many years,” Marlene Owens-Rankin, one of Owens’ daughters, said in a press release. “In the interest of fairness to our families and because of the number of items in the collection, we made the decision to put the memorabilia up for auction. We hope that the majority of the items will end up with collectors who wish to share them with the public so that the collection will be a source of enjoyment and inspiration for as many people as possible for generations to come.”

Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, triumphing in the face of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany by taking the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and long jump.

One of those gold medals was auctioned in 2013 for $1,466,574, the highest price ever for a piece of Olympic memorabilia. Two more were said last April to be auctioned last August, but there are no widespread reports of the sales actually happening.

Before Owens’ death in 1980, the sprinter reportedly said he had lost the four gold medals. The German government replaced them, and they now rest at Ohio State, Owens’ alma mater.

Owens’ Presidential Medal of Freedom was given to him by President Gerald Ford in 1976. His Congressional Gold Medal was awarded posthumously in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. They are the highest civilian awards in the U.S.

Also in the auction is American Jim Hines‘ gold medal from the 1968 Olympic 100m.

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VIDEO: Usain Bolt, Carl Lewis, Jesse Owens in same race

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Jesse Owens’ Olympic gold medals up for auction

Jesse Owens
AP
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Two of Jesse Owens‘ four 1936 Berlin Olympic gold medals will be auctioned in August, according to Heritage Auctions.

Owens won four gold medals at the Berlin Games, triumphing in the face of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany by taking the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and long jump.

Owens gifted one gold medal to entertainer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, according to “Mr. Bojangles: The Biography of Bill Robinson.”

That medal was auctioned for in 2013 for $1,466,574, the highest price ever for a piece of Olympic memorabilia.

Owens used his three other Olympic golds as payment for a Pittsburgh hotel stay in the mid-1950s, according to “Intelligent Collector,” a magazine affiliated with Heritage Auctions, which is housing the August auction with Owens’ medals.

“Jesse didn’t have the financial means to pay for his stay at Mr. Harry Bailey’s hotel,” said Albert DeVito, son of a local handyman who ended up with the two gold medals being auctioned, according to the magazine. “So he gave his medals to Harry as his payment for expenses incurred.”

DeVito’s father was later gifted the three gold medals by the hotel owner Bailey for previously lending him money. DeVito’s father kept two and gave back to Bailey one gold medal whose whereabouts are unknown, according to the magazine.

DeVito thought to sell the remaining two gold medals after seeing the 2013 auction.

“It wasn’t until that first gold medal sold that we even thought, ‘Oh, my goodness. These things are worth something!'” DeVito said, according to the magazine.

It’s unknown which of the gold medals corresponds to which Olympic event, as they are not specified on the medals.

Before Owens’ death in 1980, the sprinter reportedly said he had lost the four gold medals. The German government replaced them, and they now rest at Ohio State, Owens’ alma mater.

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MORE: Watch Usain Bolt, Jesse Owens in same race

Watch Usain Bolt, Carl Lewis, Jesse Owens in the same race

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Eurosport put the three most iconic sprinters of all time into the same race, with technological assistance of course.

It took Usain BoltCarl Lewis and Jesse Owens‘ sprints from the 2012, 1984 and 1936 Olympics, respectively, and superimposed them on the 2012 London Olympic track.

In the Race of Legends, Bolt burst out to significant lead by 50 meters, but Lewis actually closed a bit on him in the latter half of the race.

Their final times:

Bolt — 9.63 (current Olympic record)
Lewis — 9.99
Owens — 10.3

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