The PyeongChang Winter Olympics games has come and gone. At its conclusion on the 25th of February, just under 3000 athletes competed in 102 Olympic events across 15 disciplines. For many people around the world, the Winter Olympics was about supporting their country as well as the individual athletes. For the athletes at the Games, it is all about winning an Olympic medal. While a bronze and silver medal at the Olympics is certainly a major achievement, worthy of much praise, taking home the gold medal is something every professional athlete dreams of.
In the eyes of an Olympic athlete, an Olympic gold medal is priceless, but in reality, the medal has an intrinsic monetary value. What most people don’t realise is that an Olympic gold medal is actually mostly silver, with a bit of gold plating. The gold medal used at PyeongChang has a total weight of 586 grams, which incidentally makes it one of the heaviest medals in Olympic history. However, only 6 grams of the 586 is actually gold.
The Metal Ratio of an Olympic Gold Medal
According to the Olympic Committee rules, the minimum requirement for a gold medal is to be made up of a minimum of 92.5% silver. If we take the just the gold weight of the medal at six grams and we value it at the current spot price of gold ($42.64 per gram) we can see that the gold portion of the medal is actually valued around $255. If we factor in the price of the silver, the total value of the medal comes in at somewhere around $570.
Since Olympic athletes train for years to achieve a medal of any sort, it would potentially be more financially beneficial for them to spend their time playing online casino games and honing their Blackjack or Poker skills, than being out on the ice or snow for 10 hours a day.
If an Olympic gold medal were to be made from solid gold, the actual value of the medal would be around $25 000. While this would be ideal, considering the number of events at the games, the cost of dishing out such lavish prizes would not be feasible. This is probably why the last time an Olympic gold medal was made entire out of gold was at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Sweden. Back in 1912, the price of gold was around $18.94 per ounce and the medals weighed 24g. Even if we adjust for inflation, the value of the medal would be far less than it would today.
Of course, for the athletes that do actually go on to win medals, there is a cash reward in store from the countries they are representing. The athletes represent the hopes and dreams of a nation and as such, any podium finish is rewarded with some kind of reparation for their efforts. This differs from country to country. At the 2016 Rio Olympics for example, Singaporean athletes were offered $757 000 if they brought home a gold. In contrast, the UK Olympic committee did not offer their athletes any compensation for their efforts whatsoever.
The Style Factor
As we all known, an Olympic gold medal is worth more than the sum of its parts. The Olympic medal also serves as an artistic representation of the host country, which has the responsibly of designing and manufacturing the medals themselves. The PyeongChang medals for instance have a sleek and modern design that was created by celebrated South Korean designer, Lee Suk-woo. For those lucky enough to get their hands on a medal, what they would see is a series of three-dimensional shapes that incorporate the Korean alphabet, which stretches across the entire face of the medal to spell out PyeongChang 2018 and Winter Olympic Games.
While we have now discovered that an Olympic medal may not really be worth its weight in gold, its value is so much more than monetary to those who win one, and many would say its priceless.