Jesse Owens was the seventh of eleven children. When he was nine years old, his family moved to Ohio so that they could have better opportunities. Owens worked odd jobs throughout his youth to help support his family. Early on Owens knew that he had a passion for running, and later he went on Ohio University and participated in track and field.
In 1936, when Owens competed, the Olympics were hosted in Berlin, Germany during the regime of Hitler. During the Olympics he was approached by Adidas, the popular athletic apparel company, and became the first sponsored black male athlete. Owens wore Adidas shoes during the Olympic Games. Later the highest award for the year’s best track and field athlete was named after him as The Jesse Owens Award. In the late 1960s he was appointed as a US goodwill ambassador.