Every athlete who comes to the Olympics hopes to win a gold medal, however, the actual physical value of the medal is far lower than some might expect. Whilst the medals being handed out at this year’s Games are the largest even in both size and weight, some of them are actually worth less than £3.
The gold medals contain just 1% gold, the rest is 92.5% silver and 6.16% copper and are worth around £410 by today’s prices. This seems to be in contradiction with the rules laid out by the International Olympics Committee which state that medals must contain 55g of high-quality silver and six grams of gold.
However, if the medals were ever sold they would be worth far more money and they also help to attract sponsorship for the athletes which win them. According to Peter Carlislse, the managing director of Olympics and Action Sports at sport consultancy Octagon, the market value of a gold medal will vary depending on the sport and country. Carlisle says that any British athlete who wins gold at London can expect to earn “into the 7 figures” over the coming four years.
Some countries offer incentives for their athletes to win gold. In Singapore, which has never won an Olympic gold, athletes are being offered 1 million Singapore dollars for winning one. The US pays about $15,000 to gold medalists and Australians will receive A$20,000, feature on a stamp and get an upgrade on their flight home.
Some athletes have been known to sell their medals. Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko sold his medal from the 1996 Atlanta Games for $1 million earlier this year in order to raise funds for a children’s charity. According to a spokeswoman for Christie’s it is “hard to put a value on medals as they come up so rarely.”