Jimmy the Greek Snyder was an American sports commentator and Las Vegas bookmaker.
Snyder was born in Steubenville, Ohio. According to his New York Times obituary of April 22, 1996, Snyder’s family roots were in the village of Tholopotami, on the island of Chios in the Aegean Sea. As a teenager in Ohio, he became acquainted with bookmakers.
According to his autobiography Jimmy the Greek, Snyder bet $10,000 on the 1948 election between Thomas Dewey and Harry S. Truman, getting 17–1 odds for Truman to win. In a later interview, he indicated that he knew Truman was going to win because Dewey had a mustache and “American women didn’t trust men with a mustache”
Controversy, Racial Comments
On January 16, 1988, Snyder was fired by the CBS network (where he had been a regular on NFL Today since 1976) after making several questionable comments about African Americans during a lunchtime interview on January 15, 1988 with Ed Hotaling, a producer-reporter for NBC-owned WRC-TV, at Duke Zeibert’s Washington, D.C. restaurant.
One of Snyder’s more controversial responses to the question was that African Americans were naturally-superior athletes at least in part because they had been bred to produce stronger offspring during slavery:
“The black is a better athlete to begin with because he’s been bred to be that way. Because of his high thighs and big thighs that goes up into his back. And they can jump higher and run faster because of their bigger thighs. And he’s bred to be the better athlete because this goes back all the way to the Civil War, when, during the slave trading, the big, the owner, the slave owner would, would, would, would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have uh, uh big, uh big, uh big black kid, see. That’s where it all started!”
According to the New York Times obituary, Snyder expressed regret for his comments: “What a foolish thing to say.” Black former NFL player Irv Cross said in the 30 for 30 documentary about Snyder that he had worked alongside Snyder for a long time and did not consider him to be a racist at all. In the same documentary, Frank Deford sympathetically noted that Jimmy often tried to sound more educated than he actually was and that his comments were basically him trying to make a point about a subject on which he knew nothing about.