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Price of Olympic Medals

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While the host city’s organizing committee is responsible for the design of the gold, silver, and bronze medals, the specifications of those medals must conform to the IOC’s specifications. All the medals have to be at least 60 millimeters in diameter and three millimeters thick. Gold and silver have to be made of 92.5% pure silver with the gold gilded with at least six grams of gold. So how much should one of these babies costs? My calculations put the minimum cost of the precious medals in an Olympic gold at $138.24 and for the Olympic silver at $25.60.

2008 Beijing Olympic Medals: Front w. Ribbon

If we price gold at $540 an ounce, or $19.08 a gram. Six grams would cost $114.48. If we figure the medals are at minimum specifications, then there would be 74 grams of silver (the other 92.5%) which would cost about $9.10 per troy ounce, or $0.32 a gram, for a silver price of $23.76. That puts the price of the precious medals in an Olympic gold medal at $138.24. Olympic silver, at 80 grams of pure silver, would cost $25.60. But who only makes a minimum sized Olympic medal?

The Salt Lake City medals weighed a hefty 20 ounces (heaviest ever to that point), or about 560 grams, for a price tag of about $291.76 for gold (554g of silver for $177.28 plus 6g of gold for $114.48) and $179.2 for silver. That doesn’t include the 40 hours of labor each medal took to make or the design work involved.

How do my calculations stack up? Not sure… in a Reuter’s story about the Athens Games (2004), the writer pegs the medal cost in metal material alone at $400,000 for 3,000 medals, or $133.33 a piece (but that’s presumably for a thousand of each of the three medals). Recall though that recently gold prices have been the highest they’ve been in twenty five years right now…

If you want to measure the price in terms of how much a country spends on the Olympics, Australia spent about $187.6M, or $3.9 million per medal in the Sydney Olympics (2000), where they won 49. That’s just the direct government spending on “high performance funding” and doesn’t include corporate sponsorships or what was spent by the Australian Olympic Committee. [Source]

Australia spent seven times as much to win only four times as many medals than Canada, who “paid” a mere $2.2M for each of their medals, a relative bargain. The Brits probably feel a little ripped off since they spent almost as much as the Aussies but since their haul of medals was less than half their cost per medal is almost twice as much. The dollar amounts only include the costs spent on athletes, since Australia did host the games in Sydney.

If you were to ask the athletes the “price” of an Olympic medal, I’m sure you’d get an entirely different answer. :)

I did a lot of searches in Google to find this information but never found a place that had this information, if you know of one, I’d love to hear about it.

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5 Responses to “Price of Olympic Medals”

  1. Carman says:

    Why don’t you just check eBay?

  2. Star Money Articles for the Week of February 13

    My favorite posts this week from the MoneyBlogNetwork members and beyond: Consumerism Commentary advises not to buy stuff you can’t afford. AllThingsFinancial has questions about a debit card for a 10-year-old. Five Cent Nickel talks about the accurac…

  3. Anonymous says:

    92.5% is the purity of the silver not the ratio by volume in the medal. What carat of gold goes on the medal?

  4. Boyd says:

    See: http://www.winnipegsun.com/sports/vancouver2010/2009/10/15/11411996.html
    “The 615 Olympic and 399 Paralympic medals weigh 500 to 576 grams and were made by the Royal Canadian Mint using metal supplied by Vancouver mining giant Teck Resources. The metal was sourced from Teck mines in B.C., Ontario, Newfoundland, Alaska, Chile and Peru. The medals also include metal recovered from recycled circuit boards.” These medals are HEAVY.
    I would expect most precious metals produced in
    the last few years would contain some recycled metal from circuit boards. The trick would be
    proving it – and what percent.
    from circuit boards

  5. Wendy Tsao says:

    My friends went to the Royal Mint Pavilion during the Olympics 2010, where they learned that with materials and labour, the cost of making each medal was approximately $4000. The best way to find out would be to contact the Canadian Royal Mint.


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