Some would say, “Priceless,” but just how much is the metal in an Olympic medal worth?
The London 2012 medals are the biggest ones ever awarded at a Summer Olympics, but they won’t fetch too much money melted down. That doesn’t matter though, since hocking them on eBay will fetch a pretty penny.
These medals — which took 10 hours to make just one — are mostly made of silver and/or copper, putting their melting values fairly low. The International Olympic Committee has ruled that gold and silver medals must be 92.5% silver, so Michael Phelps isn’t really wearing 400 grams of gold around his neck.
Olympic gold medal for the London 2012 Summer Olympics
At one time a gold medal really was a solid gold medal, though. In 1912 at the Stockholm, Sweden Summer Olympics, the 24-gram medal was solid gold, but only worth $16 melted down at that time, according to Investopedia. Now, the price of gold considerably higher than $18.93 an ounce, but there’s a lot less gold in a medal.
In addition to being 92.5% silver, gold medals are 6.15% copper and only 1.35% gold. So melted down, given today’s prices for the metals, a gold medal would only bring in $663.07
But, if an Olympian really wanted to make money off his or her hard-earned hardware, the best move would be to auction it off. According to H&R Block, Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko sold his medal for $1 million and U.S. hockey player Mark Wells sold his for $310,700.
According to The Huffington Post, swimmer Anthony Ervin, who shared gold in the 50-meter freestyle in 2000, sold his gold medal for $17,100 and donated the money to a disaster relief fund.
However, in addition to the value of the medal won U.S. Olympians are compensated by the U.S. Olympic Committee. A gold medal will earn an athlete $25,000, a silver $15,000 and a bronze $10,000.
According to a Yahoo! Finance article, the U.S. is low-balling its athletes in comparison to other countries. Italy is paying $182,400 to any Italian who wins a gold medal; Russia offers $135,000; and France pays out $65,200.
But perhaps the U.S. is offering enough considering it already has 18 gold, nine silver and 10 bronze medals under its belt. Plus, China, which is currently beating the U.S. in the medal race, offers monetary prizes closer to America — a gold medal is worth $31,400 in our biggest Olympic rival.
And with prize money comes taxes. According to The Weekly Standard, the taxes on the money for a gold medal are $8,986; $5,385 for a silver; and $3,500 for a bronze.
However, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is sponsoring a bill that would exempt U.S. athletes from paying takes on the money they receive.
“Our tax code is a complicated and burdensome mess that too often punishes success, and the tax imposed on Olympic medal winners is a classic example of this madness,” he told The Washington Times.