What Is the Value of an Olympics Medal?

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

The U.S. won 46 gold medals at this Summer Olympics.  How much is an Olympic medal worth?  Here are three possible answers.

FIRST, you can look at the actual value of the components that make up the parts of the medal.  The melted gold and silver in an Olympics gold medal is worth about $600 in current market prices.  The last time pure gold was used to make gold medals was at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden.

The gold medal weighs 531 grams.  Of that, only 6 grams are actually gold plating – 6 grams is the minimum.  The rest is made of other materials.  If the entire medal was made of gold, it would be valued at $22,000!  The silver medal is less expensive to make.  The value of a silver medal is about $550.

There is also another reward associated with the medals.  The U.S. Olympics Committee awards athletes $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze.  Those cash bonuses are considered taxable income.  The swimmer Michael Phelps has won more gold medals than anyone and is in the top tax bracket.  Phelps will have to pay an estimated $55,440 in income taxes for the 5 golds and 1 silver medal he won in Rio!

SECOND, each individual medal winner gets a lot of satisfaction by displaying their medals.  Some of the U.S. medal winners wore their medals to each of their meals, and even on their trips home.  Many are framed.  Each medal represents the achievement and reward of years of hard work.

THIRD, I think the greatest value of a medal is how athletes use the medal as a platform to do something for other people.  There are many stories about medal-winning athletes who have come back to America and have dedicated a portion of their time to challenging, encouraging, inspiring and helping young people.  When the medal opens a door to serve someone, that makes it more valuable!

The Polish discus thrower, Piotr Malachowski, recently said, “My silver medal is worth more than it was a week ago when I won it in Rio.”  He said this because he sold his medal in order to help pay for eye cancer medication for a three-year old boy named Olek.  Not many athletes would do that!  The value of Piotr’s medal is Priceless!

A similar incident occurred at the Invictus Games.  Britain’s Prince Harry was stunned when he handed a gold medal to an American swimmer, only for her to give it back.  Sgt. Elizabeth Marks, a 25-year-old military medic, won four events at the games, a Paralympic-style competition for wounded service members.  During the award ceremony, Marks, who suffered a hip injury in Iraq, asked Prince Harry to give the medal to the staff at England’s Papworth Hospital where she was treated after developing a near-fatal lung condition.  Marks said, “They absolutely saved my life.  I can’t thank the U.K. enough.”  That gold medal is Priceless!

While few people receive gold medals for competition in the Olympics, we may receive compensation and rewards for good things we have accomplished.  Each of those rewards will have a different value based on the component parts.  Each of those rewards will bring a certain degree of satisfaction to us.  Those things may be priceless.

But when we give away a reward in order to make a difference in someone else’s life, it makes that reward extremely valuable.  In Matthew 25, Jesus said that what we do for people who are hungry, without clothes, in prison, etc., is precisely the way we treat Him.  He said, “In as much as you do this for one of the least of these, you have done it for me.”  Something done for Jesus is Priceless!

Every day, we live our lives competing.  Make sure the reward is worth the effort.  Spend your time and energy on the medals that are Priceless!

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