At the Olympic Games in PyeongChang approximately 260 medals – gold, silver and bronze – will be distributed to athletes competing in 15 different sports. Some are individual sports while others are pairs or teams. How much are these medals worth? It is not a simple answer. It depends on several factors, such as the type of medal or the fame of the winner.
It is important to note that winning a gold medal does not mean winning a monetary prize in principle. The International Olympic Committee does not award a cheques to the winners. However, some countries offer prizes to athletes who win medals. For example, in the past, the United States has given the winners $ 25,000 for winning a gold medal, $ 15,000 for winning a silver medal and $ 10,000 for winning a bronze.
Singapore has given its athletes more than $ 500,000 to win gold, while Indonesia has awarded the first place winner with more than $ 400,000.
However, apart from the extra prize for being a winner given by some countries, the value of the medals can be measured in three ways: the value of the precious metal itself, the value of the auction and the value of sponsorship.
Value of the precious metal
Each celebration of the Olympic Games has a different medal design. The medals are designed to reflect the culture of the host country. Therefore, the weight and the precious metal used for each medal varies. The medals of PyeongChang weigh approximately half a kilo and have a thickness of 8 cm.
However, this does not mean that the winners receive solid gold medals.
Since the Olympic Games in 1912 in Stockholm, no solid gold medals have been awarded. Instead, the medals are bathed in gold. The gold medals of the PyeongChang Olympians contain 1% pure gold, or 6 grams of gold. The silver medals are solid, while the bronze ones are made of a copper alloy.
In short, according to Time , this would be the value of the medals themselves, considering only the metal used, at market price:
Gold medal : $ 577
Silver medal : $ 320
Bronze medal : $ 3.50
Value in auction
Considering the prestige of the Olympic Games, the fact that the medals have a low value can be a bit surprising. But one thing is the value of an object in itself, another thing is the value that the public gives it.
In general, Olympic medals usually have a much higher price if sold by auction. Jonathan Scheier, an expert on objects of sports interest at Heritage Auctions, says that a gold medal is usually sold for between $ 20,000 and $ 50,000. Silver medals sell for between $ 10,000 and $ 30,000 and bronze medals typically generate less than $ 10,000.
What determines the auction price of the medals? Obviously depend if it is gold, silver or bronze. But the fame of the athlete who won it also matters.
“A gold [medal] would be the most valuable,” Scheier told Time. “But a silver or bronze from a famous athlete could be sold for more money than a gold medal from a relatively unknown competitor.”
It also matters the condition in which the medal is and the factors of the event, according to Scheier. In general, he adds that the medals of the Summer Games are worth more than the Winter Games, although there are exceptions.
Finally, the medals also have another value: the value of sponsorship. A competitor who wins a medal at the Olympics may receive opportunities to work with brands or give talks. This is another source of income.
Sponsorships depend on several aspects, says Deidra Dionne, a Canadian skier who won a bronze medal at the 2002 Winter Games. Dionne says it depends on the sport, the country and the performance of the athlete, among others. It is also important if a sponsor thinks that the competitor will win more medals and championships in the future.
Competitors who win medals when they are already considered “older” in their sport in general have fewer opportunities to be sponsored for this reason, explains Dionne.
In conclusion, the value of an Olympic Games medal goes beyond the value of the object itself. The society decides what value it gives to that medal and what significance it gives to the athlete who won it. In some cases winning a medal means taking a lot of money, but not in others.
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