What the 10 Biggest 'Gold' Medals Would Be Worth, If They Were Gold
China tricked out its medals with a bit of jade, which is a big reason why the weight of its gold medals is the lowest on this list. Still, China won back a bit of the estimated $14 billion to $40 billion it spent on the Olympics by topping the medals table with 51 golds in 2008. American swimmer Michael Phelps had the best haul of any athlete in Beijing, taking home 3.5 pounds of "gold" after winning eight gold medals.
9. 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics
Weight of medal:7.23 ounces
Hypothetical pure gold value: $11,452
The Winter Olympics dominate this list, mostly because their medals are overwhelmingly larger and heavier than those of their summer counterparts. American fans remember these games for the U.S. hockey team's "Miracle On Ice" win over the Soviet Union, but even the team's gold-medal win against Finland couldn't push it ahead of the Soviets on the medals table. The U.S.S.R. took home 10 gold medals that year.
8. 1960 Rome Summer Olympics
Weight of medal:7.44 ounces
Hypothetical pure gold value: $11,785
The Trionfo design created by Giuseppe Cassioli had been used for every Summer Olympics medal since 1928, but this was perhaps the only year it made any sense. Cassioli put Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, on the medal's front holding a crown and palm. The only problem is that for 40 years, she held them while standing in front of the Roman Colosseum. This angered the Greeks to no end and resulted in the design getting the boot altogether in 2004. Why so touchy? Columns, gods, the Mediterranean, oil-laden foods... it's all the same, right?
7. 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics
Weight of medal:8.15 ounces
Hypothetical pure gold value: $12,910
This version updated Trionofo, but the key change was bulking up to a solid half-pound in weight. If Michael Jordan was going to throw a flag over his warmups because they didn't have a Nike logo on them, there's no way the Dream Team was going to stroll around Las Ramblas wearing anything less than a half-pounder around their necks. Jordan, Bird and Magic aside, the real gold rush of 1992 was made by the 12 former Soviet republics competing as the Unified Team. Even with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania going solo, the Unified Team took home 45 gold medals to the U.S. team's 37.
6. 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics
Weight of medal:9.2 ounces
Hypothetical pure gold value: $14,573