Featured Spartans

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Herb L. Washington

Herb Washington (MSU class of 1972), one of the greatest sprinters of all time, is the owner of H.L.W. Fast Track, LLC. The company is among the largest black-owned companies in America according to Black Enterprise Magazine.

For over ten years, Herb L. Washington's H.L.W. Fast Track, LLC has been a fixture on the Black Enterprise 100, a list of the nations's largest Black-owned businesses. The June 2013 issue reported the company had revenues of $60 million in 2012 and employed 1,600.

Washington moved from Detroit to Rochester, NY in 1980 where he opened his first McDonald’s restaurant. After seven months, he purchased another McDonald’s. Both of these first McDonald’s were in the inner city. In 1986 he was awarded a suburban franchise. He eventually acquired five Rochester-area franchises. In 1998 Washington set his sights higher and purchased most of the Youngstown, Ohio area McDonald’s franchises. Today he is one of the largest McDonald’s franchise owners in the United States.

Success on and off the Field
In 1997, Washington received the Silver Anniversary Award. Each year the American National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) recognizes six distinguished former student-athletes on the 25th anniversary of their college graduation. Eligible nominees must be a college graduate and a varsity letter-winner from an NCAA member institution. They must also have achieved personal distinction since graduation.

Before McDonald’s and After the Pro Sports Career
Before Washington purchased his first McDonald’s franchise, he worked at Michigan Bell managing a staff of account executives. He was well liked and popular, but very low-key – or as low key as a man dressed in vibrantly colored, custom-made suits could be. For the most part, he was a regular guy. However, when he donned a pair of gym shorts for the staff softball games, there was no mistaking the fact that he was something special. His legs were as chiselled and muscular as those of a thoroughbred racehorse.

Pro Career
After graduating from MSU, Washington became a member of the 1974 World Series champion Oakland Athletics. Despite having no previous baseball experience, he appeared in 105 games as a pinch runner. His contract worth $45,000, his signing bonus of $20,000 and his $35,000 World Series made him the only person in the history of baseball to earn $100,000 without ever pitching a ball or being up at bat.

Following his pro baseball career, Washington resumed his track and field career and remained in competition until 1976.

High School and College
After running a 9.3-second 100-yard dash in high school, Washington was heavily recruited by numerous colleges. He was leaning toward MSU due to the number of Blacks on the football team. His fate was sealed when MSU hired Jim Bibbs as an assistant track coach. Bibbs would go on to become the first Black head coach at MSU, as well as, the longest tenured track and field coach in program history.

MSU Philanthropist
In 2010, Washington showed his esteem for MSU when he and his wife Gisele donated $250,000 to MSU to establish a scholarship fund. The fund benefits participants of the men’s varsity track and field program.

How Great a Sprinter Was Washington?
In high school, Washington ran the 100-yard dash in 9.3 seconds. In 2008, Usain Bolt established a world record in the 100-meter dash of 9.69. When Washington’s time for running the 100-yard dash is converted to meters and the assumption is made that he ran 1 yard every .93 seconds, his time for running 100 meters would have been 10.17 seconds. Washington may have been almost a second slower than Bolt, but he wasn’t wearing modern track shoes nor was he running on a modern track.