Olympic Medals: Interesting Things You Might Not Know
Lots of gold, silver and bronze medals are hanging around the necks of winners who competed in the Olympic Games. There are some interesting questions surrounding the medals that are handed out to the winners. Let's answer some of those questions.
Winter Games Have A Motto
Since 1924, the Olympic Winter Games have had a motto. The official motto, “Citius, Altius, Fortius,” is on the medals. It means “Faster, Higher, Stronger.”
Winter Games Medals Are Heavier
Olympic medal designs have changed a great deal over the years. However, one thing remains the same. The Winter Games medals are heavier. The Summer Games medals are not as thick as the Winter Games medals which have a more freestyle layout. The Summer Games medals are of a classical and lighter design.
You cannot tell the difference in weights just by seeing the winners wearing them. Both the Winter and Summer medals are heavy, but the Winter Games medals just happen to be heavier.
Why Do Winners Bite Their Medals?
If you have seen the athletes accepting their medals on the podium, you have probably noticed that they all either bite their medals or hold them close to their mouths. Why is that?
This is done at the photographer's request for the photo. The custom of biting one's medal, especially the gold ones, goes back to an ancient practice of biting into gold to find out if it is real gold. The irony of this is that the gold medal the top winner receives is not real gold.
Gold Medals Aren't Really Gold
The gold medal given out at the Summer Olympic Games hasn't been real gold since gold medals were handed out at the 1912 Summer Olympic Games in Stockholm. Gold medals aren't required to be 100 percent gold. Traditionally, Olympic gold medals are required to be made with at least 92.5 percent silver and must contain a minimum of only six grams of gold. Who knew?
The gold medals awarded more than a hundred years later are actually silver with gold plating. Of course, that doesn't matter too much to the athletes who are honored to be in first place.
Who Designs the Medals
The host city's organizing committee is responsible for designing the Olympic medals. That's why all the medals don't look the same. However, there are some requirements that must be taken into consideration when the medals are designed.
Each medal must be at least three millimeters thick and 60 millimeters in diameter. Also, the gold and silver Olympic medals must be made out of 92.5 percent silver. The gold medal must be covered in six grams of gold. In actuality, the gold medal is more silver than gold. The bronze and silver medals contain 30% of recycled materials.
Because we see the medals hanging around the athletes' neck, many of us don't know that athletes are given a wooden box to house their medals when they are not wearing or displaying them.
Taxes On Medals
Olympic Medals Are Taxed
Many people don't know this, but the winners must pay taxes on the medals they earn as well as on the money they receive for coming in first, second, and third place. Athletes from other countries don't have to pay taxes like United States citizens.
Uncle Sam has been watching and calculating how many medals Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, and others from the United States have won. Phelps had to pay $55,000 on his five golds and one silver. Taxes have to be paid on the medals and cash awards because they are considered income.
Cash Collected By Winners
Value of Medals
Medals Not Very Valuable
The medals are not very valuable in themselves, but it is the honor of getting one that counts. Look at the chart and you might be surprised how much the medals are really worth.
Even though that are not worth much, they can be sold and gotten much more on the open market. They can be sold easily from $10,000 to $1 million or more.
Can Athletes Sell Their Medals?
The short answer is "Yes, Olympic medals can be sold." The price depends on whether the medal is gold, silver or bronze. Also, and most importantly, the medal is worth more depending on the athlete who won it. Michael Phelps’ medals are worth at least $100,000 each. They could be worth more if they were won from a noteworthy competition.
A single medal from a not so well-known athlete could be worth about $30,000.
- Mark Wells, from the 1980 hockey team, sold his gold medal in 2002 for $40,000.
- Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko sold his 1994 medal for $1 million in 2012.
- Jesse Owens sold his gold medal he won in the Berlin Olympics in 1936 for a whopping $1.4 million in 2013.
Notice the difference in the sale prices.