Olympic Gold Medalists Aren’t Getting Rich
Those gold medals can be a little deceiving.
While Olympians are paid $25,000 for winning a gold medal, the medal itself doesn't have much gold in it at all. So what IS in the gold medals won by Olympians at the 2016 games in Rio?
The 2016 gold medals have a minimum of six grams of pure gold, a requirement by the International Olympic Committee. That's worth about a whopping $258.06 by today's gold price, via GoldCalc.com. No, there's no missing commas above. That's all they're worth. Six grams is a whopping 1.2 percent of the total 500-grams that a gold medal weighs. So what's the rest? Prepare to be surprised, and disappointed... not near as much as the athletes, though.
92.5 percent of a gold medal is actually recycled silver from things like mirrors and X-ray plates. I told you, you were going to be disappointed. 80 people work around the clock making the medals at Brazil's National Mint in Rio. It takes two days to make each of the 5,130 Olympic medals required for this year's Summer Games. The last time an Olympic gold medal was all gold was for the Stockholm, Sweden games in...wait for it... 1912.
Another strange fact: Medals for the Summer Games are usually smaller, lighter, and thinner than those for the Winter Games. My assumption is since we're all carrying around a little extra weight in the winter, what's a little more.
Now, as for the tradition of biting down on a gold medal. The athletes do it to ham up for photographers, but they also do it because they know their medal won't be harmed. If the medal was 100% gold, they'd leave teeth marks behind. However, at 1.2 percent gold and almost 95 percent silver, bite away.
The whole thing makes me glad to have a few blue ribbons at home. A few. Sure they're worth WAY less than the gold in the gold meal, but I worked a whole lot less hard for them. However, I would like that $25,000 paycheck, how 'bout you?