Fun on Friday: Going for Olympic — Silver?
Have you been watching the Olympics? I’ve always loved the Olympic Games. There’s always so much drama as the best athletes in the world compete for gold.
But did you know they are mostly competing for silver?
True story. There is very little gold in an Olympic gold medal.
Gold medals are primarily made out of silver. They are silver medals covered with about 6 grams of gold plating.
So, gold medal winners – for all practical purposes – you’re getting a silver medal.
Sorry about your luck.
The value of the metal in a 556-gram Olympic medal is a little over $800. That’s nothing to sneeze at. But if it was made completely from gold, it would be valued at over $35,000 (calculated with gold at $1,800). This probably explains why the medals aren’t solid gold.
As it is, each gold medal has about $360 worth of gold in it.
By the way, the medals are about 30 grams lighter than those handed out at the Winter Olympics in 2018. It’s interesting to note that the 6 grams of gold in a 2018 medal were only worth about $250. This, my friends, is why you buy gold.
According to Olympic records, the only time gold medals were purely made of gold was during the St. Louis games in 1904 and the London games in 1908. The medals were much smaller. And the average price of gold in 1904 was a mere $18.96 per ounce.
Oh – here’s another thing – the medals being handed out at the Tokyo Olympics are junk.
I mean – literally junk.
The folks planning for the 2020 (now 2021) Olympics collected enough silver, gold and bronze (copper and tin) from e-waste to make all of the medals for the games.
The Olympic Planning Committee collected 9,000 pounds of silver, 67 pounds of gold and 6,000 pounds of bronze. That’s a pretty impressive haul considering they basically just got people to donate their broken-down electronic devices. The Olympic planning committee put collection boxes in over 2,400 NTT Docomo phone stores as well as other locations throughout Japan. It took them about two years to collect the 5 million busted-up pieces of junk. But as it turns out, broken phones contain a payday – about $3 million worth of metal.
According to the Silver Institute, the typical mobile phone contains 90 mg of silver, 36 mg of gold, 0.7 grams of tin and 6 grams of copper.
Of course, the fact that they were able to recycle gold and silver from broken cell phones reveals an important characteristic of these precious metals. They are immutable. That’s a fancy-pants way of saying you can’t destroy it. After the medal-making folks in Japan finished processing the silver and gold e-waste, it was as pure as the day it was originally extracted from the ore.
So, what about the bronze medal winners? They might as well not even bother. Those medals are formed of about 90% copper and 10% zinc. They weigh just under 500 grams each. The bronze medal is pretty much the penny of Olympic medals. But hey – what do you expect to get when you’re the second loser?
Fun on Friday is a weekly SchiffGold feature. I dig up some of the off-the-wall and off-beat stories relating to precious metals (however loosely) and share them with you – with tongue firmly planted in cheek. The opinions expressed are my own. They are 100% correct – but not necessarily shared by anybody else here – including Peter Schiff. Click here to read other posts in this series.