MUNDANE MYSTERIES: How Much Is An Olympic Gold Medal Worth?

The Olympics are underway now, with every athlete there striving to “bring home the gold” (as in gold medals). But, have you ever wondered: just how much is an Olympic gold medal really worth?

If the International Olympic Committee were still giving out solid gold medals to 1st-place finishers, those medals would be pretty dang valuable. But, after the 1912 Olympic Games, they substituted silver medals coated in gold. So, any Olympian today who might decide they want to melt their medal down & sell it for scrap isn’t going to earn as much as they might have back in the day.

The gold medals for this year’s Tokyo Olympics are made up of about 6 grams of gold on top of about 550 grams of pure silver. Like stock prices, gold & silver rates fluctuate pretty frequently. So, each medal’s value isn’t really set in stone. But, ballpark, it sits somewhere above $800. The online site Bustle estimated it at $830 back on July 13th, while another site, the National Post, said it was closer to $810 on July 19th. A silver medal, which is just 550 grams of pure silver, sits at $462, while the bronze medals, which are mostly copper & a bit of zinc, are only worth a few bucks.

But Olympic gold medals can be worth much more than just what they’re made of, and several athletes have sold theirs for far more than a measly $800. Back in 2010, Mark Wells, a member of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” US hockey team, sold his gold medal to a private collector, who then auctioned it off for almost $311,000. Then, four years later, Mark Wells’s teammate, Mark Pavelich, scored $262,900 for his medal. And then, there are some medals that find their way onto the auction circuit way after their original owners have passed. For instance: in 2013, one of Jesse Owens’s gold medals from the 1936 Berlin Olympics sold for about $1.47 million.

So, if you can ever manage to snag one those Olympic gold medals, you may have a literal gold mine on your hands (albeit not solid gold).

Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? Send me a message via social media (@AndyWebbRadioVoice), or shoot me an email at [email protected].

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