The countdown begins – in one month athletes from around the world will converge in Pyeongchang, South Korea to compete for their country’s honor and the coveted Olympic medals.
In total, only about 50 ounces of gold was used to create all the gold medals that will be handed out. On its website, the International Olympic Committee said that the South Korean medals were designed by the country’s celebrated designer Lee Suk-woo. “Their design was inspired by the texture of tree trunks, with the front bearing the Olympic rings and dynamic diagonal lines that reflect both the history of the Olympics and the determination of the participants,” the IOC said.
As with all contemporary Olympic medals since 1912, there is actually very little gold in the gold medal, as it is made mostly out of silver with only six grams of gold plating.
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However, what sets South Korea’s medals from previous Olympics is the purity of the silver and the amount of the precious metal that is used. According to official Olympic website, the gold medal is made from 99.99% pure silver and weighs 586 grams. In comparison, at the last Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian mint said that its gold medals were made from silver with 95.5% purity. Rio 2016 medals were produced using 30% recycled materials.
South Korea’s medals are also much heavier than Rio’s, with the gold medal weighing 586 grams, the silver medal weighing 580 grams and the bronze medal, which is 90% copper and 10% zinc, weighing 493 grams. In total, 259 sets of medals have been made for the Winter Games. Crunching the numbers, 9,659 ounces of silver was needed for both gold and silver medals. With silver prices currently trading around $17 an ounce, the total value of all the medals is $164,203.
Looking at gold, less than 50 ounces were used for all the medals. At current prices of around $1,314 an ounce, the total value is around $65,700. But, everyone knows the money isn’t in the medals themselves, it’s the achievement that pays. For this year’s games, U.S. athletes who come home with the gold will get paid $37,500 per medal, up from the $25,000 payout during the Rio Games. A silver medal earns an athlete $22,500, while a bronze winner gets $15,000. Paralympic athletes will earn $7,500, $5,250 and $3,750 for gold, silver and bronze, respectively.
North of the border, Canadian athletes (and they excel at winter sports because they have to do something with all that cold weather) gold medal winners will get $20,000, the silver winners will get $15,000 and the bronze winners will get $10,000.