This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

5 Most Valuable Bits of Olympics Memorabilia Ever

Jesse Owens' 1936 Olympic Gold Medal
Selling price: $1.47 million

One of the biggest criticisms of the U.S. reaction to the Sochi games and Russia's oppression of its LGBT citizens is that it isn't exactly taking care of its own LGBT citizens, either.

That double standard has been applied before, but Jesse Owens used it to embarrass Adolph Hitler at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and give Hitler's Nazi regime its first public rebuke. At age 23, Owens won four gold medals, in the 100- and 200-meter dash, the long jump and as a member of the 4x100 meter relay team. He defeated Hitler's Aryan supermen and ridiculed his notion of white supremacy.

But Owens' performance in those games didn't put an end to anything. Hitler touched off World War II, ground up millions of lives in fighting it and erased millions more in wholesale genocide while pursuing racial purity. In 1945, he killed himself with a single gunshot to the head in a Berlin bunker as Russian forces prepared to capture the city. His remains were crushed, burned and thrown into a river years later.

Owens, meanwhile, came home and had his amateur status revoked by U.S. officials for having the gall to take money for commercials. He briefly owned a Negro League baseball team in Portland, Ore., called the Rosebuds. He would race against horses and local sprinters for cash. He was criticized for all of it, to which he responded: "People say that it was degrading for an Olympic champion to run against a horse, but what was I supposed to do? I had four gold medals, but you can't eat four gold medals."

He was reduced to pumping gas, bankrupted, prosecuted for tax evasion and eventually used by the U.S. Olympic Committee as a pitchman. He lived in a nation where blacks were, at best, prevented from living in the same neighborhoods or using the same facilities as whites and, at worst, just outright killed because of the color of their skin. By the 1970s, he'd not only reversed his stance and supported the Black Power salute used by sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the podium at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, but he stood against President Jimmy Carter's decision to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Owens is a sports icon who was seldom treated as such during his time. His medal -- which was sold by the estate of Elaine Plaines-Robinson, the wife of entertainer and Owens confidant Bill "Bojangles" Robinson -- may finally tell his more complete story when buyer and Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle incorporates it into his plans for an educational tour of various artifacts. These Olympics, meanwhile, may make a statement by awarding a U.S. LGBT athlete a medal in Sochi, but will only prove a symbolic victory if nothing changes for LGBT citizens in the U.S. and Russia afterward.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to

>To submit a news tip, send an email to:


Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post,, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
6 of 6

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 18,053.71 +23.50 0.13%
S&P 500 2,088.77 +6.89 0.33%
NASDAQ 4,806.8590 +33.3870 0.70%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs