FACT CHECK: Does This Photo Show Olympic Athlete Jesse Owens Posing With Adolf Hitler?

Hannah Hudnall | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Instagram purportedly shows an alleged quote from Olympic athlete Jesse Owens about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt snubbing him and includes a purported picture of Owens posing with Adolf Hitler.


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Verdict: Misleading

While the quote is correctly attributed to Owens, the photo has been digitally edited. Owens is standing next to teammate Ralph Metcalfe in the original photo.

Fact Check:

The Instagram post, liked over 340 times, appears to show Owens and Hitler smiling and posing for a photo together. “Jesse Owens and Adolf Hitler during the Olympics,” reads text included in the image. The post then attributes the following quote to Owens: “Hitler didn’t snub me; it was our president Roosevelt who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send me a telegram.”

The photo is a digital combination of two separate pictures. The original picture of Owens, taken in 1936 at Randall’s Island Stadium in New York, shows him standing beside his teammate Metcalfe, according to Getty Images. “Jesse Owens of Ohio State, and Ralph Metcalfe of the Marquette Club, after they had finished in one-two order, respectively, in the 100 meter event at the final Olympic track and field tryouts,” the photo’s description reads.

Owens would go on to win four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany, an event overseen by Hitler, according to the official Olympics website.

The original image of Hitler is from 1939 in Germany-occupied Poland, according to the stock image website Alamy. Owens does not appear in the photo. (RELATED: Does This Image Show A Genuine Time Magazine Cover Related To The Invasion Of Ukraine?)

The quote, however, is attributed correctly. Owens told a crowd of 1,000 African-Americans in Kansas City, Missouri after his Olympic victory that “Hitler didn’t snub me—it was [Roosevelt] who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send me a telegram,” according to the book, “Nazi Games: The Olympics of 1936.”

While Hitler did not personally congratulate Owens, they exchanged celebratory waves on August 3, 1936 following the 100-meter dash, according to Britannica. Roosevelt never publicly acknowledged or offered congratulations to any black athletes for their participation in that year’s Olympics, the encyclopedia states.

Hannah Hudnall

Fact Check Reporter