When it comes to honor and glory and bringing pride to your homeland, we all know that a gold medal is worth more than a silver medal, but what if we didn't consider the symbolism? What if we looked at the literal monetary value of the medals? How much is a silver medal worth anyway? The answer may surprise you.
To know how much a silver medal is worth, you first have to know what it's made of — which isn't as simple as you'd assume. By now you might have heard that gold medals aren't mostly made of gold anymore — instead, they're comprised mainly of silver that's then gilded in gold, to save on costs. When you're handing out silver medals in 306 events, it's best to save wherever you can. So is calling a silver medal "silver" also misleading?
Actually, no. Silver medals are mostly made of silver — in fact, they are 93 percent silver. And interestingly, to be more environmentally friendly, 30 percent of that comes from recycled sources like mirrors and X-Ray machines. So what makes up the last 7 percent of each medal? It's actually copper — because, as you might be able to guess, copper is cheaper.
All medals for the Brazil Olympics are manufactured by the Brazil mint.
So when you look that the composition, how much are the medals worth? Well, it's hard to know how much they might have cost to make, but if you want to know the market value of the silver and bronze that go into each silver medal, that at least isn't too hard to answer. Each medal is 500 grams, and with the current market price of silver at about 63 cents per gram, and of copper at about five cents per gram, the total value of the metal in each silver medal is a little under $295.
Of course, once they've been turned into Olympic medals and awarded to athletes, they can sell for quite a bit more than that. Although Olympians typically like to keep their medals, some do sell them. It's also not unusual or someone to donate their medal to a charity auction to help raise money for a good cause. And when the cause is right — or the medal in question has historical significance — they can sell for over $1 million.
Though it's worth noting that those are almost always gold medals. Although silver medals are actually worth about the same amount of money when it comes to their metallic contents, they don't carry the same weight when it comes to buying and selling Olympic medals.
Of course, to someone who has trained their whole lives for the chance to compete in the Olympics, a medal of any color is priceless.