It's Easy To Guess The Worth Of A Gold Medal, Until Someone Wins It

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For many athletes at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, an Olympic medal may well be priceless. After all, winning a medal is the product of the literally blood, sweat, and tears that athletes typically shed during their years-long journey to an Olympiad. Still, there are multiple ways to estimate an intrinsic value for how much an Olympic medal is worth.

One way is to calculate the value of the elements used to make the medals themselves, taking into account their size and shape, while accounting for the percentage of the medal that's actually gold.

So, let's do the math.

A gold medal at the PyeongChang Olympics weighs 586 grams. However, the 2018 gold medals are only composed of 6 grams of actual gold, with the rest of the 580 grams being made of silver, according to Forbes. That means you'll need to get your calculator, take the number of grams for each respective element, and multiple the two numbers by the current value of silver and gold, respectively.

To check the value of gold and silver's value on any given day, all you'd have to do is research the spot price of both — or, in other words, the value at which each is trading on the market.

As of Tuesday morning, February 20, gold is trading at a spot price of about $43 per gram, so the six grams of gold within a 2018 Winter Olympics gold medal are worth about $258.

Silver, meanwhile, is trading at 54 cents per gram, which means the 580 grams of silver in a PyeongChang gold medal is worth about $313. Put the two figures together and your estimate for how much an Olympic gold medal is worth is about $571.

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How Much Are Silver And Bronze Medals Worth?

This same type of math can be used to estimate the value of silver and bronze medals as well.

A silver model weighs 580 grams, and is made up of 99.9 percent silver, per Forbes. That means a silver medal is worth about just as message as the same amount of silver that is used to make a gold medal for the PyeongChang Olympics: $313.

A bronze medal, on the other hand, weighs 493 grams and is made of 90 percent copper and 10 percent zinc, according to Forbes. At the time of writing, copper's spot price is 1 cent per gram (yes, just one).

That means that 90 percent of the medal is worth just under $5.

The Caveat?

The estimates noted above for how much each Olympic medal should be thought of as the value of each medal before it goes around an athletes neck. After all, what really makes the value of sports memorabilia is the context within which they were won or worn.

According to Time, a gold medal typically sells at auction for $20,000 to $50,000, while silver medals auction for $10,000 to $30,000, and bronzes go for under $10,000.

Now, take an Olympics-related example from last summer for an extra caveat: The price also depends on the specific context. Safe to say, it probably didn't cost much money to manufacture the jerseys worn by Team USA's men's basketball team at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. But one of those jerseys was worn by a 21-year-old Michael Jordan, who won gold at those Olympic Games, which was the summer before he step foot on an NBA court for a competitive game. Last June, a game worn Olympic jersey of Jordan's from 1984 Olympics sold for $273,904.

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That example not comparable enough for you? Consider one of the gold medals won by USA track and field legend Jesse Owens during the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany. In 2013, it sold for nearly $1.5 million.

That said, there's no telling how much a person would pay for, say, a gold medal won by Lindsey Vonn during the last Olympics of her career. She might never sell it, though, because despite the auction price, or intrinsic values of a medal, they can be priceless to some athletes.