SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — According to unofficial preliminary results, the Associated Press has declared Rep. Burgess Owens as the winner of the House District 4 race with 61% of the vote.

Owens, 70, will be serving his second term in office after polls showed a 27-point lead going into the election in one of Utah’s historically most competitive districts.

Owens was first elected to Congress in 2020 and hw serves on the House Education and Labor Committee as well as the Judiciary Committee.

Owens, 70, has been a Draper resident for 10 years. He was raised in the 1960s Deep South, during the era of Jim Crow and the KKK.

After high school, where he was one of four Black players to integrate into a formally all-white football team, he was granted a scholarship to attend the University of Miami. He was also the third black athlete recruited to play football at the University of Miami.

Owens graduated as a first-team All-American defensive back with a B.S. degree in biology and chemistry and would go on to be drafted by the New York Jets before being traded to the Oakland Raiders. He was a member of the 1980 Super Bowl Championship team.

After spending much of his post-NFL career as an entrepreneur, Owens would eventually found Second Chance for Youth, an organization dedicated to help at-risk and incarcerated youth.

Owens drew criticism and raised questions for refusing to participate in Utah Debate Commission-sponsored debates, having been a no-show for both the primary and general debates. Owens says a Salt Lake Tribune political cartoon is to blame, because a moderator in the Dist. 4 debate was the Tribune’s Executive Editor Lauren Gustus. Owens said in a statement shared on Youtube that Gustus’ support of the cartoon led him to ask she be removed as a moderator. Owens said the Utah Debate Commission refused, leading him to drop out of the debate.

The cartoon, drawn by Pat Bagley, depicts Owens in comparison to a member of the KKK. The cartoon shows Owens complaining about migrants coming over the U.S. border by saying, “THEY are coming to YOUR neighborhoods.” Next to that depiction is a cartoon Klansman saying the same thing with the caption “70 years ago.”