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Why the Olympic Gold Medals are Fake

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Gold mania takes its toll on the Olympics.

Those giant gold medals you see the Olympic athletes proudly sporting aren't really gold. They're practically fake, made mostly of silver, with some copper and a 1.34 percent hint of gold. Thanks to economic instability and gold mania, even the gold medal winners are going home with silver.


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (
7/31/2012 (1 decade ago)

Published in Sports

Keywords: 2012 Olympics, medals, gold, silver, Greece, prizes, athlete pay

LONDON, ENGLAND (Catholic Online) - Weighing in at 92.5 percent silver, the "gold" medals only look gold because they are mixed with 6.16 percent copper and a minimal addition of just 1.34 percent gold. International Olympic Committee rules require that gold medals be covered with a minimum of 6 grams of pure gold, but beyond that, the maker can use any other material they wish.

At the current price, the medals are still worth a little over $300 in terms of gold. The silver, which makes the bulk of the medal, adds considerable value. Nevertheless, typically, what ads the most value overall, are the novelty of the games and the athlete that wins it. Medals won by well-known athletes can fetch hundreds of thousands on the market even years after they were earned, but this is only for a tiny minority of illustrious athletes. Most athletes and their medals return home to obscurity soon after the Olympic flame is extinguished. 

As for silver medalists, their prize is still silver, but the gold is replaced with much cheaper copper.

And don't ask about bronze. A bronze medal is 97 percent copper, and 2.5 percent tin. The last one-half of a percent is zinc, effectively making the medal into one very large penny. It's scrap metal value is around $3.

When we watch the incredible feats of athleticism from the world's youth on public display and we realize the extreme rigors of training and competition that many athletes endure, often without any compensation whatsoever, it makes us wonder.  Could we possibly do a little something more to show our appreciation for the hard work and value we place on their performance?

Although pro-athletes in the US are paid astronomical sums for their efforts, most Olympic athletes, regarded as the best in the world, typically receive very little. It's a pity then to see that we can't be bothered to give them pure medals for their trouble when they give us so much of themselves in return.

Still, a gold medal probably beats the prizes of the ancient Olympics. Back then, the winner received a wreath made of olive branches. As for second place, they could forget silver. Second place was known in Greece as the first loser, and they were typically shamed and shunned by their community; the ancient Greeks didn't tolerate losses very well.

Read more: London Olympic flame extinguished, saved by senior-citizen athlete!



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