Tuesday, July 31, 2012 , Updated 10:29 a.m., August 9, 2012
UPDATED: How much of an Olympic gold medal is actually gold?
Watching Granbury resident Dana Vollmer win the gold medal in the 100m women's butterfly, logging the best time in the world and getting an Olympic record, we got to thinking: Is that medal really gold?
According to information from the London Olympics, largely, no. The gold medal is only 1.34% gold, with 92.5% silver and the rest copper.
The silver medal is arguably more authentic, with 92.5% silver and the rest copper.
The bronze medal is 97% copper, 2.5% zinc, and 0.5% tin.
Most of the metal was mined at Kennecott Utah Copper Mine near Salt Lake City and at the Oyu Tolgoi project in Mongolia, according to sources with the Olympics. The zinc was mostly taken from Australia. The tin is from Cornwall, United Kingdom.
The medals weigh 375-400 grams. If a medal was made of 14 karat gold and was 100% gold, by today's prices it would be worth about $12,100. If it was 24 karat gold, the price jumps to nearly $21,000. But putting a price tag on an Olympic gold medal is impossible: It's likely much more about the accomplishment than the material it's made of.
London's Olympic medals were designed by British artist David Watkins. The shape of the medal is a "metaphor for the world." The design on the other side (pictured below, center medal) includes five elements, sent courtesy of the London Olympics:
The curved background implies a bowl similar to the design of an amphitheatre.
The core emblem is an architectural expression, a metaphor for the modern city, and is deliberately jewel-like.
The grid suggests both a pulling together and a sense of outreach -- an image of radiating energy that represents the athletes’ efforts.
The River Thames in the background is a symbol for London and also suggests a fluttering baroque ribbon, adding a sense of celebration.
The square is the final balancing motif of the design, opposing the overall circularity of the design, emphasising its focus on the centre and reinforcing the sense of "place" as in a map inset.
So there you have it: Olympics queries debunked.
UPDATE: What happens when Olympians take their medals home? They owe money to the IRS for the honorariums received for winning a medal.
The tax bill is $3,500 for bronze; $5,385 for silver; and $8,986 for gold, according to the Weekly Standard.
"Medalists will have to pay hefty taxes for standing on the podium in London," says Yahoo!. "It's not the value of the medal itself that will require a separate line on this years tax returns, it's the tax on the prize money that comes with a gold, silver or bronze."