Mental Floss

How Much Is an Olympic Gold Medal Worth?

Ellen Gutoskey
Serena Williams poses with her gold medal after winning at the 2012 London Olympics.
Serena Williams poses with her gold medal after winning at the 2012 London Olympics. / Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images

If the International Olympic Committee still gave solid gold medals to first place finishers, said medals may be pretty valuable. But after the 1912 Games, they made the switch to silver medals coated in gold, so any modern Olympian looking to melt theirs and sell it for parts doesn’t stand to earn quite as much.

The gold medals for the Tokyo Olympics, created by Japanese designer Junichi Kawanishi, comprise roughly 6 grams of gold atop roughly 550 grams of pure silver. Since gold and silver rates, like stock prices, fluctuate pretty frequently, the value of the medal isn’t exactly static. But in general, it’s hovering somewhere above $800. Bustle estimated it at $830 on July 13, while the National Post calculated $810 on July 19. A silver medal, made of 550 grams of pure silver, comes in at $462; and bronze medals, mostly copper and a little zinc, are worth just a few bucks.

But Olympic gold medals have value beyond the sum of their parts, and plenty of athletes have hocked them for much more than a paltry $800 or so. Mark Wells, a member of the “Miracle on Ice” U.S. hockey team of 1980, sold his to a private collector, who auctioned it off for nearly $311,000 in 2010. Wells’s teammate, Mark Pavelich, made $262,900 off his own medal four years later.

Others end up in the auction circuit long after the original owners are gone. In 2013, for example, one of Jesse Owens’s gold medals from the 1936 Berlin Olympics sold for about $1.47 million in 2013.

[h/t National Post]