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WIN: NBC’s 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics by Numbers

This week, in lieu of a Week in Numbers, I give you NBC’s 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics by Numbers.

My favorite numbers of the bunch?

  • $25,000 – The amount each Olympic athlete is given by the USOC for a gold medal.
  • 44 – The number countries with apparel deals with Nike at the Olympics, there are 204 countries participating in total.
  • 0 – How much Michael Phelps will pay to eat pizza at Pizza Hut for the next year (all because he broke Spitz’s single-Games gold medal count record, I had no idea he did that)

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WIN: I Love The Olympics

9500000 pesos: First Philippine Olympic GoldCNN reported that the Philippine government has offered 9.5 million pesos to any athlete who brings home their first-ever Olympic gold medal. The government ponied up the first five mil and private businesses kicked up the remaining. According to Wikipedia, there are 15 competitors in 8 sports in the 2008 Games and their chances look as good as they did the last two games where they blanked on medals in Sydney and Athens.

2.0 billion yuan spent on China Olympic TeamAccording to The Epoch Times, China spent approximately 2.0 billion yuan (~$292 million USD) on its delegation across the four years of preparation. China has 639 competitors in the Beijing Games, putting the cost of each competitor at about half a million dollars over four years.

$100000000 Opening Ceremony CostAccording to NPR, the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics cost about $100 million. That makes it about half a million per minute ($476k) and about eight grand spent each second. Absolutely AMAZING.

Finally, Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest, cost an estimated 4 billion yuan, or about half a billion US dollars according to Wikipedia.

And absolutely no mention of Michael Phelps and 8. Well, until I mentioned that I didn’t mention it. :)


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How Much Is An Olympic Medal Worth?

2008 Beijing OlympicsIf you ask an Olympian, the answer is that the medal is priceless.

If you ask the governments of countries, the answer is in the millions.

If you ask someone who is interested only in the precious metals in the medals, the answer is a little more pedestrian.

While the gold, silver, and bronze medals of each Olympiad are unique in their design, the IOC has minimum standards for medal composition. The Beijing medals are 70mm in diameter and 6mm in thickness, which is 10mm wider and 3mm thicker than IOC requirements. The IOC requires that the gold medal be made of pure silver and gilded with at least 6 grams of gold. They also have a fair amount of jade integrated into the design. Since there are no reports as to the actual composition of the medal, with respect to jade versus the precious medals, for simplicity I’ll assume the medals are 700mm x 6mm of 92.5% silver and six grams of gold (for gold, and 100% silver for silver). It’s a bit inaccurate but I think we can make do!

Six grams of gold is worth approximately $160 at average prices today and the other 92.5% of the silver is worth at about $60, again assuming average prices. A total price for the gold at $220 puts it higher than previous years in sheer previous metal values.

Or we could cheat and read reports on China spending $1.24M on the six thousand medals, making them an average of $206.66 each. Telegraph.co.uk priced the cost of a gold medal at $393 though this probably includes design, manufacturing and shipping. Compare this to Athens in 2000 when each medal cost $155 and you see how much of an impact gold prices have been.

So pretty!

2008 Beijing Olympic Medals: Front w. Ribbon

2008 Beijing Olympic Medals: Back w. Ribbon

Medals of Beijing Olympic Games unveiled (with detailed photos of the medals) [Beijing 2008]


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Price of Olympic Medals

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.

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