Richard Jewell Net Worth, The Hero Turned Suspect, and More


Richard Jewell net worth, was an American police officer and security guard who went from hero to suspect overnight. Jewell was working as a security guard at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta when he discovered a suspicious backpack in Centennial Olympic Park. He alerted police and helped evacuate the area before the backpack exploded, saving countless lives. However, within a few days, Jewell went from being hailed as a hero to becoming the FBI’s prime suspect in the bombing. Despite the intense scrutiny and false accusations, Jewell was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing. His story illustrates how quickly public perception can turn and the powerful role the media plays in shaping narratives.

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NameRichard Allensworth White
NicknameRick Jewell
Birthday17 December 1962
Date of Death29 August 2007
PartnerDana Jewell
ParentsBobi White Jewell, Robert Earl White
ProfessionPolice Officer
Net Worth$8 million

Early Life and Career

Richard White Jewell was born on December 17, 1962 in Danville, Virginia. Growing up, he admired law enforcement and dreamed of being a police officer. After graduating high school in 1982, Jewell took various jobs in law enforcement while pursuing his dream. He worked as a jailer, a deputy sheriff, and even a campus security guard.

In 1990, Jewell realized his dream when he was hired as a police officer for the small town of Pendergrass, Georgia. However, he was fired after just 5 months due to allegations of impersonating an officer. Despite this setback, Jewell continued to pursue law enforcement jobs. He found work as a deputy sheriff in Meriwether County, Georgia in the early 1990s.

By 1996, Jewell was working various security jobs. When the Olympics came to Atlanta that summer, he jumped at the opportunity to work security at the events. Little did he know this job would turn his life upside down.

The Olympic Park Bombing

On July 27, 1996, Eric Robert Rudolph planted a backpack containing pipe bombs underneath a bench in Centennial Olympic Park, where the Olympics were being held. The park was crowded with visitors and members of the news media at the time.

Around 1:20 a.m., while working a security shift, Richard Jewell noticed the suspicious backpack underneath the bench. He alerted nearby Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) officers and helped evacuate the area. Approximately 30 minutes later, the bomb detonated. One person died from the blast, but the death toll likely would have been much higher if not for Jewell’s quick thinking.

Initially, Jewell was hailed as a hero. The media portrayed him as a dedicated security guard who saved countless lives through his alertness and quick response. However, within a few days, everything changed.

From Hero to Suspect

On July 30th, 1996, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) released a front-page story labeling Richard Jewell as the FBI’s prime suspect in the bombing. The media went into a frenzy, portraying Jewell as an aspiring police officer who planted the bomb so he could “discover” it and be a hero.

The FBI had become suspicious of Jewell based on a behavioral profile. Supposedly he fit the profile of a “false hero” – someone seeking fame and public recognition. However, the FBI did not yet have any solid evidence linking Jewell to the crime. Regardless, the media ran with the storyline, subjecting Jewell to endless public scrutiny.

For the next 88 days, the FBI thoroughly investigated Jewell’s background, questioned his character, and searched his home repeatedly. The intense media coverage and public speculation nearly ruined Jewell’s reputation.


On October 26, 1996, the FBI formally cleared Jewell of any involvement in the Olympic Park bombing. Relying on circumstantial evidence and profiling rather than hard evidence, the FBI and media wrongly accused an innocent man.

In 2003, anti-abortion extremist Eric Robert Rudolph was arrested and confessed to the Centennial Olympic Park attack, proving once and for all that Richard Jewell had been telling the truth all along. Rudolph was charged for the bombing as well as several other attacks on abortion clinics and a lesbian nightclub over the years.

Jewell was upset that the media portrayed him in such an unflattering light based on speculation. He felt they owed him an apology.

Lawsuits and Settlements

After being exonerated, Richard Jewell proceeded to file lawsuits against several media outlets that depicted him as guilty of the Olympic Park bombing. Jewell sued NBC, CNN, the New York Post, and Cox Enterprises (parent company of the AJC) for defamation.

While these lawsuits dragged on for years, most were eventually settled or dismissed. However, Jewell’s lawsuit against the AJC did result in a settlement where the newspaper issued a front page apology and donated money to a bombing victims’ fund.

Jewell’s legal team argued that the media utilized unnecessarily harsh descriptors like “fat,” “failed” and “frustrated” to cast Jewell in a negative light without any concrete evidence. The lawsuits highlighted the media’s rush to judgement and the real damage false reporting can cause.

Impact on Jewell’s Career

The accusations and harsh media coverage had lasting consequences professionally for Richard Jewell. Despite being fully exonerated, he struggled to find work in law enforcement after the bombing.

According to his attorneys, Jewell was “devastated” that the public maintained doubts about his innocence due to the media’s portrayal. After a decade of pursuing his dream career in law enforcement, the Olympic Park bombing controversy made it near impossible for Jewell to return to police work.

In interviews, Jewell expressed deep frustration with the media for basing stories solely on speculation without evidence. He felt they had sacrificed his reputation just to have a big story.

For the rest of his life, Jewell worked various jobs in the security field, including as a police dispatcher and guard at a college. But he was never able to fully restore his reputation and achieve his lifelong dream of being a police officer. The entire controversy had a lasting impact on his career.

Later Life and Death

In the years after the 1996 Olympics, Richard Jewell lived a quiet life out of the public spotlight. He married Dana Jewell in 1998. While he worked various security jobs, Jewell also gave speeches on campus safety and became involved in law enforcement advocacy groups.

Jewell’s health steadily declined due to complications from diabetes. On August 29, 2007, at the age of 44, Richard Jewell passed away from heart disease. Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff in his honor, finally recognizing Jewell as the true hero he always was.

While Richard Jewell’s name was eventually cleared, he unfortunately did not fully get to enjoy his hard-won exoneration in life. However, his unfounded vilification highlighted issues in law enforcement and media practices that reverberate to this day. Jewell’s legacy serves as an important reminder of the diligence required to separate speculation from fact.


  • Richard Jewell demonstrated true heroism when he discovered the Olympic Park bomb and helped save lives.
  • However, his heroic story took a tragic turn when the FBI and media falsely portrayed him as a terrorist based on flimsy profiling and speculation.
  • After intense scrutiny and a damaged reputation, Jewell was exonerated and the true perpetrator caught.
  • While Jewell found some vindication through lawsuits and settlements, the controversy forever altered his career and life path.
  • Richard Jewell’s complicated legacy serves as a cautionary tale on the immense power wielded by both law enforcement and the media in shaping public narratives.
  • His story illustrates how easily an innocent person’s life can be upended when speculation is portrayed as fact.

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