When the 1936 Summer Games kicked off in Berlin, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler wanted to use the Olympic stage to showcase his Aryan superiority philosophy. Instead, an African American kid from Ohio State stole the show.
Jesse Owens claimed four Olympic gold medals in Berlin, in the 100 meters, 200 meters, 4x100 relay and the long jump. Owens tied the world record in the 100 meters (10.3 seconds) and set world records in the 200 meters (20.7 seconds) and long jump (26 feet and 5 3/8 inches).
After Owens won his second gold medal in the long jump, Hitler left the Olympic Stadium without congratulating him for his accomplishment, according to the New York Times.
Owens wasn't supposed to run in the 4x100 relay, but U.S. Olympic track coach Lawson Robertson told his team that Owens and Ralph Metcalfe would replace Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller on the 4x100 relay team, the New York Times reported in 1981. Glickman and Stoller were Jewish.
Owens unsuccessfully lobbied for Glickman and Stoller to run, according to the Times.
"Jesse was magnificent," Glickman told the Times. "He said, 'I've had enough. I won three gold medals. Let Sammy and Marty run."
But the decision had been made: Owens was going to run. He and Ralph Metcalfe were to join Foy Draper and Frank Wykoff on the relay team.
When the race ended, Owens earned his fourth gold medal and a place in Olympic history.
But he didn't win the idolization of his country.
Owens was unable to monetize his gold medals. Nor did he meet then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House with the rest of the American Olympic team.
"When I came back to my native country, after all the stories about Hitler, I couldn't ride in the front of the bus," Owens told ESPN.com. "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."