How Much Is a Gold Medal Really Worth?

It depends on who you ask.
IMAGE Getty Images

The 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea are fast approaching, where athletes from all over the world will fight for a place at the top of the podium. But pride aside, how much is that gold medal really worth?

When assigning the first-place necklace a value, it helps to establish that the medal isn't solid gold. The last time solid medals were used to adorn the Olympic champions was at the 1912 Stockholm Games. Gold shortages during World War I led to the current makeup of medals—the International Olympic Committee (IOC) requires that the medals contain at least six grams of pure gold and use roughly 92.5 percent silver.

But the design and weight of the medals vary from game to game. For example, the 2012 London medals were particularly large, clocking in at about 400 grams a piece. Money Magazine did the math on those and placed the intrinsic value for the first-place necklaces at $501 dollars.

But of course, the medals are worth more than scrap metal. A few years ago, USA Today spoke with RR Auction in Boston, a firm that regularly sells Olympic medals. They estimated that an average summer gold—one not tied to a famous athlete or a historic Olympic moment—goes for about $10,000. Silvers go for $8,000 and you can snag yourself a bronze for just $5,000. Overall, Winter Olympics medals tend to be pricier than their summer counterparts, as there are fewer events.

But what really makes a difference, in terms of value, is if the medal belonged to someone particularly famous. One of Jesse Owens's 1936 medals sold for $1.47 million in 2013. And while it failed to sell, Jim Craig's gold from the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" had a pre-auction estimate price of $1.5 million.

And even if Olympic champions choose to hold onto their medals, the ultimate symbol of athlete prowess, they can expect a little cash to come their way. Medalists are known for receiving sponsorships and endorsement deals and, at least in America, a payout from back home. In 2016, gold medalists received $25,000 from the U.S. Olympic committee.


Don't have a cool $10,000 to spend on Olympics memorabilia? That's okay, check out this video of the Rio Olympics medals being made instead:

*This story originally appeared on
*Minor edits have been made by the editors

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Caroline Hallemann
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