Olympics 2016: How Much Is A Gold Medal Really Worth?

The question about the value of an Olympic gold medal comes up about every two years with the Olympic Games. It depends on whether you are asking about the actual value of the piece of metal placed around the neck of the first-place athlete, the gold medal winner, or what it means to the gold medal winner financially after the games are over. But perhaps the first thing to know is that though Olympic gold medals do contain some gold, they are more like gold-colored medals. Perhaps they should call it a golden medal.

But when it comes to the Summer Olympics, Michael Phelps is the king of the gold medal, and the Rio Olympic Games is off to a golden start for Phelps, who has been seen around sporting adornment of a different sort. According to the Inquisitr, Michael Phelps uses cupping therapy as part of his conditioning, and it leaves purplish-red circles along his shoulders back and legs. Luckily, on the medal stand, Phelps’ cupping marks are covered for photo ops.

Town & Country says that the last time that gold medals were actually gold medals was in 1912 for the Stockholm Games. Gold and precious metal shortages during the World Wars saw an end to that, but the IOC (International Olympic Committee) rules say that the medals must contain at least 6 grams of pure gold. For most Olympic Games, the gold medals are actually about 92 percent silver.

The gold medals for the London Games were valued at $501 in 2012, but that is the price for them as scrap metal. Another way to look at the gold medal is to investigate what that medal would fetch at auction. There are several auction houses that do a decent business auctioning off Olympic medals. It seems that Winter gold medals are more valuable than Summer gold medals, as less of them are given out, according to RR Auction in Boston.

“Gold goes for about $10,000. Silvers, go for $8,000, and you can snag yourself a bronze for just $5,000.”

These prices are assuming the medal is not linked to a famous athlete, as they would fetch more for that medal at auction. For example, one of Jesse Owens’ gold medals sold for $1.47 million in 2013. Another way of thinking about the “value” of a gold medal is to think about how much a gold medal winner can get for endorsement deals after the Olympic Games.

AL.com added that Olympic medal winners of every color, not just gold, also walk away with financial compensation after the Olympic Games are over. Each country pays out in a different way, but the United States Olympic Committee gives out a cash prize per medal, says a source.

“The awards vary based on the medal won: gold medal winners receive $25,000; silver $15,000; and bronze $10,000.”

But other countries pay their athletes who medal even better than the United States.

“Kazakhstan pays gold medalists $250,000; Malaysia promises its medalists a solid gold bar worth $600,000. Members of the Italian Olympic Team can receive $189,800 for a gold medal; Russians receive $189,800.”

But sadly, Olympians who get a medal and a payday can expect Uncle Sam to dip into their prizes, and it is taxed as income earned abroad. But this year, New York Senator Charles Schumer is pushing legislation to keep the IRS from touching Olympic prizes.

“Our Olympian and Paralympic athletes should be worried about breaking world records, not breaking the bank, when they earn a medal. Most countries subsidize their athletes; the very least we can do is make sure our athletes don’t get hit with a tax bill for winning.”

But Forbes asks the specific question what is the real monetary value of the Rio Olympics Gold Medal? Forbes says that the “podium value” of the Rio Olympics gold medal is about $564, as the Rio Games gold medal is smaller that the London Games gold medal, which would go for $708 on the same scale. If the entire Rio Olympics gold medal was made of actual gold, it would be worth $22k.

During the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, 2,488 total medals will be given out to athletes from around the world.

Did you think that gold medals were made from pure gold?

[Photo by Michael Sohn/AP Images]