On August 1, 1936, Germany holds the first televised Olympic games in Berlin. Hitler hoped to use the event as a way to showcase his new Nazi regime to the world and prove his theories on racial superiority through the victories of his Aryan athletes.
Two days later, enter African American track-and-field star Jesse Owens. Owens wins not only four gold medals within the first nine days of the games, but also sets a world record in the long jump—a feat that would go unbeaten for almost 50 years. Owens’ outstanding performance shredded Hitler’s plans to display Aryan dominance. The führer’s refusal to shake the American athlete’s hand after the victory ceremony fueled rumors that Hitler had snubbed Owens.
“Hitler didn’t snub me,” Owens later told the press, “it was our president who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send me a telegram.”
While Owens’ gold-winning performance ultimately didn’t halt the evil machinations of the Nazi regime, it undoubtedly embarrassed Hitler and undermined the Nazis’ views of white supremacy.