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The medal is one of four Owens won at the Berlin Olympics in front of Adolf Hitler, who was using the games to push his ideas of Aryan superiority. The U.S. sprint star won gold in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and the long jump.
“Almost singlehandedly, Owens obliterated Hitler’s plans,” SCP Auctions partner Dan Imler told the Associated Press. “You’ve got an African American, son of a sharecropper, grandson of slaves who overcame these incredible circumstances and delivered a performance for the ages.
The selling price shattered the record for the highest selling price for a piece of Olympic memorabilia, the previous record being $865,000.
The memorabilia was bought by Ron Burkle, co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The medal was sold by the estate of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson’s late wife. Owens gave Robinson the medal as a gift after he helped the Olympian find work after returning from the games. The whereabouts of the other medals is unknown and it is unknown which event the medal auctioned is from.
Proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Jesse Owens Foundation.