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Former NFL player Jimmy Kennedy on the racism he faced at a JPM branch: 'The situation is a gift and it’s a curse'

Sara Dramer
Associate Producer

Jimmy Kennedy, a former NFL player, says he faced racial discrimination when he tried to become a “private client” at a JPMorgan Chase branch in Arizona, and he has the tapes to prove it, the New York Times reported.

“You’re bigger than the average person, period. And you’re also an African-American,” the employee Charles Belton, who is also black, told Kennedy in the recording. “We’re in Arizona. I don’t have to tell you about what the demographics are in Arizona. They don’t see people like you a lot.”

When Kennedy spoke with the employees at the branch, he said they kept giving him the runaround. “I was being lied to, my money was being held up. I was told I couldn’t have an annuity because of my age ... I was told athletes always blow their money and buy big cars,” Kennedy told Yahoo Finance’s The Final Round in a recent interview.

When Kennedy approached the bank about his recordings and what he experienced he said, “JPMorgan five months ago told us that they listened to the tapes and it wasn’t racism at all. They told us that they let a black man listen to the tapes and they said that none of this stuff was racism and I said well, let the public decide.”

Kennedy described the experience as both "a gift and it’s a curse — I decided to go back to school … to work towards my doctorate in finance just so I can learn to manage my own money,” he said.

After the Times report was published JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon sent a memo to employees saying he that he is “disgusted by racism and hate in any form. Any such behavior — explicit or veiled, deliberate or unconscious — is unacceptable and does not reflect who we are as a company and how we serve our clients and communities every day.”

Sara Dramer is an associate producer at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @saradramer

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