If you're an elite athlete who's earned the chance to compete in the Olympics, winning a medal at the Games would be metaphorically priceless. But if you had to attach a real, literal price to the coveted hardware, how much could the gold, silver, and bronze versions fetch? Per CNN, the design of the medals shifts with each Olympics, and this time around, based on current precious-metals pricing, the 556-gram gold medal—actually pure silver plated in gold that accounts for just 6 grams of that total—would be worth around $800 if you melted it down. As WTSP puts it, "That means, right now, your MacBook Pro, the cheapest Rolex, and a flight to Tokyo costs more than the top prize handed out at the Olympics."
The 550-gram pure silver medal, meanwhile, would earn you $450 or so, while the 450-gram bronze piece (which is 95% copper, 5% zinc) would put a grand total of $5 in your pocket. That doesn't mean past medals aren't bringing in big bucks on the auction block: CNN notes that two gold medals from Cuban athletes who competed at the Games over the past two decades brought in more than $70,000 each, while a gold piece from the 1896 Athens Olympics was sold for $180,000. Multiple past Olympians have gone the selling route, either because they've hit hard times or because they wanted to raise money for charity, notes the New York Times. Others wouldn't dream of parting with their award. "I would never sell my medals," former UK heptathlete Kelly Sotherton tells CNN. "They mean a lot." (Read more Olympic medal stories.)