TECH AND MONEY

So how does that medal taste?

Want to know how the whole medal-biting thing got started?
FOX Sports MARK TALKINGTON
Share This Story

   
 

LONDON

Olympic rifle

MAKING HISTORY

All the scores are in the books, all the medals are around necks. Find out who was golden with our full Olympics results.

Lies, damn lies and statistics. Mark Twain would be proud. The Olympics have plenty of each.

Case in point: Some fascinating research by the Wall Street Journal. Somebody there watched every single medals ceremony in London so far and found the following:

• One quarter of female athletes receiving a gold medal cried, compared to only eight percent of the men. The paper noted, however, that “many of the men who did cry seriously lost it.”

• An average of 44 percent sang along with their national anthem (51 percent of the men and 35 percent of the women). The Chinese were the most likely to sing (92 percent vs. 61 percent from Great Britain and 44 percent from the US).

• More than 15 percent bit their gold medals (24 percent of the men and five percent of the women).

Olympic rifle

WHO HAD GAME?

Look back at the 2012 London Games on our full Olympics schedule.

 

No doubt you’ve seen countless images of that last bullet point. But why? What possesses a newly crowned Olympic champion to pose with their prize pretending it was a milk-chocolate treat instead of the reward for being at the top of your chosen sport?

Gold medals definitely aren’t made of anything tasty. In fact, even if gold was delicious, there’s only one percent of it in gold medals being handed out in London. The last time the medals were actually made of gold was in 1912. These days, more than 90 percent of the award is silver. Melt the medal down and the raw materials are worth about $645. If they were solid gold, given their dimensions and the current price of gold, they would be worth about $45,000 (enough for Ryan Lochte to buy two new diamond grills).

Enough about the math, though. Biting the gold appears to be about emotions and recent history, with some ancient history thrown in for good measure. While nobody can quite pin down when the first gold medalist posed taking a faux bite, the theory about why goes like this: Back when coins were made of real gold, people often bit them to ensure they were actual gold. You can leave a mark in real gold. It’s softer than gold-plated lead. At some point an Olympian did this, and the tradition started. Now, Olympians bite their medals because that’s what they’ve seen others do.

TWEET-NESS!

How are the athletes adjusting to the Olympics being over? See their latest tweets.

In short, they bite them because they think they are supposed to (or because photographers tell them to). It’s simply part of the tradition of being a gold medalist.

“Sports all have their eccentricities,” psychologist Frank Farley explained to NBC News. “If you want to be part of the winning zeitgeist, that winning culture, you participate in that winning practice.

“It makes your medals yours,” the Temple professor said. “It’s an emotional connection with your accomplishment.”

A word of warning to athletes about that connection: Don’t connect too closely. German luger David Moeller, who won a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics, broke his tooth during the photo op after the medal ceremony.

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by


OLYMPIC VIDEOS

Olympian Van Dyken injured in ATV accident

Posted: Jun 09, 2014
America's Pregame provides an update on the condition of former Olympic swimmer ...

Phelps clocks fastest qualifying time in return

Posted: Apr 24, 2014
Michael Phelps clocks the fastest qualifying time in 100-meter butterfly at the ...

Clark claims 7th US Open halfpipe crown

Posted: Mar 09, 2014
Watch Kelly Clark land the first-ever cab 1080 en route to claiming her 7th win ...

Gold wins US Open halfpipe

Posted: Mar 09, 2014
Watch Taylor Gold's US Open-clinching run in the halfpipe, featuring an epic Fro...

Blind skier prepares for 2014 Paralympic Games

Posted: Mar 07, 2014
Blind skier Staci Mannella pushes the limits as she prepares for the 2014 Paraly...

Fox Sports Store