The question of how much are Olympic medals worth was not asked before the Modern Era of the Olympic Games. Only when the modern Olympic Games were revived, medals took the place of olive wreaths (also called kotinos) that were given to winners in Ancient Greece. Yes, at that time in Athens gold medals were not awarded. Medal awards started in 1904 at the St. Louis Olympic Games. The awards are given to the top finishers of each competition.
Each tournament at the Olympics ends with 3 top finishers: the first position gets the gold medal, the second position gets the silver medal while the third position gets the bronze medal.
The design of the medals is decided by the organizing committee of the host. Every Olympic tournament has had different designs of medals, and the Tokyo 2021 Olympics are no different.
So, let’s find out the worth of Olympic medals: gold, silver and bronze.
How much are Olympic medals worth?
The diameter of each of the 3 different kinds of medals is about 85mm with the thickness ranging from 7.5mm to 12.3mm. On the sides, the name of the event is engraved in English.
As of 2021, the worth of medals as pieces of a precious metal is:
- Gold medal — $810
- Silver medal — $425
- Bronze medal — $5
When the medals are being auctioned, they worth way more than these prices. Actually, they can be sold for hundreds of thousands. For instance, 1 of the 4 gold medals of Jesse Owens from the 1936 Berlin Olympics was sold for $1.47 million. This one was of historical value as well, because as a black track and field athlete from the US, Jesse destroyed the Hitler’s idea of the Nazis supremacy at the time by winning all his trophies
How much is Olympic gold medal worth? Cost of gold Olympic medals
The gold medal is worth around $800 when melted. The “gold” piece is made from 92% silver and 6g of pure gold. It is not made with only gold because it would make it too soft (and too pricey, given the number of medals given away at each Olympic event). Up until 1912, gold medals were actually made from pure gold, but after World War 1 it was decided to make them of silver with gold plating. That’s why nowadays gold medals don’t cost much to produce.
Michael Phelps holds the world record for the most gold medals (23). You should have noticed a trend of athletes biting their gold medals after winning it. This is because gold is softer than other medals, so athletes bite it like if they wanted to check the authenticity of pure gold. It’s just a tradition, there’s no big deal about it. The cash prize from the government for winning gold depends on the athlete's country. The usual range is from $25,000 upwards.
How much is Olympic silver medal worth? Cost of silver Olympic medals
The silver medal is worth around $450 and is made up of pure silver. The silver piece is given to athletes that come second in any event.
There are 3 athletes who hold the record for the most silver medals (6):
- Alexander Dityatin (USSR)
- Mikhail Voronin (USSR)
- Shirley Babashoff (USA)
Athletes with a silver medal are paid depending on the country, with a usual range being from $15,000 upwards. Silver medals when auctioned are usually worth around $8000.
How much is Olympic bronze medal worth? Cost of bronze Olympic medals
The bronze medal is worth about $5, the lowest cost among the medals. The bronze piece is given to athletes that come third in any Olympic tournament. The bronze medal is made of red brass which is composed of 95% copper and 5% zinc.
There are 4 athletes who have the most bronze medals (6):
- Heikki Savolainen
- Merlene Ottey
- Franziska van Almsick
- Alexei Nemov
Winning the bronze medal earns you about $10,000. When auctioned, it is worth $5000-$6000.
How much does Olympic gold medal weigh?
The Olympic gold medal weighs about 550g being made of some gold plating on pure silver.
The Olympic silver medal weighs about 555g being made of pure silver.
The Olympic bronze medal weighs about 450g being made of red brass (95% copper and 5% zinc).
How much real gold is in the Olympic medal?
The gold medal is the only one made with gold which is about 6g.
The silver and bronze medals are made from pure silver and red brass, respectively.