he took on some racing exhibitions against other runners, even motorcycles and cars - after returning home from the Berlin 1936 Olympic Games with 4 gold medals, as one of the USA’s most successful men’s track and field athletes of all time. He needed to earn money to provide for himself, his wife, and his daughter
Owens also reverted to the type of employment that had supported him through Ohio State University, when the absence of a sports scholarship had forced him take a $100/month job as a lift operator.
In the years after Berlin, Owens was variously a petrol station attendant, playground janitor and manager of a dry cleaning firm.(of the first two jobs, so was Duke Kahanamoku, after his Olympic glory... honest jobs weren't anything to scoff at)
Appointed director of national fitness by the wartime US Office of Civilian Defense in 1942, Owens is hired by Ford as assistant personnel director of African-American workers. Promoted to director, he switches to PR. Three years on he moves to Chicago and sets up his own PR firm.
1965 A fruitful relationship with Atlantic Richfield Oil Company leads to the first ARCO Jesse Owens Games, providing training and inspiration to young black athletes. Owens is appointed the spring training and running coach for the struggling New York Mets baseball team.
By the way, his name wasn't Jesse. It was James Cleveland Owens, and a teacher screwed up when he replied that his name was JC, and the elementary school teacher heard Jesse, and that stuck.
He was a high-school athletics star but chose Ohio State University, which had no track scholarship program. He worked as a lift operator, at a gas station, as a waiter and an Ohio Statehouse page.