Which Country Has the Most Gold Medals Ever?

Olymic Gold Medal

In the first instance one might think that the countries with the most medals in the Olympic Games are those with greater economic power. This is true but there are some exceptions like Hungary as well. We will see more details in the article below.

Countries with most Olympic awards ever

  1. US: United States has 2,403 medals to its credit: 977 of them are of gold, 758 of silver and 668 of bronze. Most of these have been won by men, because historically men had more participation in the Olympic Games. The swimmer Michael Phelps is a very outstanding sportsman of this delegation; he is one of the greatest of all times with 23 gold-medals to his name after Rio 2016. In addition to having many records, at the 2012 London Olympics, the swimmer went down in history as the athlete who won the most silverware (19 in total, 15 G, 2 S and 2 B).
  1. Soviet Union: The USSR was the main rival of the United States until its fall in 1989. Its rivalry was not only limited to state affairs, but also in sports. The number of honors obtained by the USSR (from Helsinki 1952 to Seoul 1988) totaled 1122: 440 G, 357 S, 325 B. Till 2016, they have won 1414 awards in total (see the table for more details).
  1. Germany: This country participated in Olympic Games from Athens 1896, the first modern Olympics ever. It has 1305 medals: 412 G, 432 S, 461 B. Germany won most of its awards (101) during Berlin Olympics 1936, which were organized by Hitler.
  1. Britain: In the Olympic Games the three nations that make up Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) compete together, unlike what happens in other world competitions and European football championships. So far they have won a total of 123 awards: 208 G, 258 S, 257 B.
  1. France: It participated in the Olympics since 1898. France has a total of 679 awards: 201 G, 223 S, 445 B. At the Paris Olympics in 1900, it won the most awards (97 in total).
  1. Italy: Italy has 549 awards in total: 198 G, 166 S, 185 B. Its greater harvest happened in the Olympics of Rome in 1960 with 36 medals.
  1. Sweden: It has total 483 awards (143 G, 163 S, 177 B). Its most successful performances were in Antwerp 1920 and Stockholm 1912.
  1. Hungary: It has 476 medals: 167 G, 145 S, 164 B. In the Olympic Games where it received most of its silverware was in Helsinki 1952, with 42 medals in total.
  1. China: China comes at number 9 in the list. It has 473 awards in its cabinet.
  1. Australia: It possesses total 467 honors: 138 G, 153 of S, 176 B. Swimming has been the sport with which it has won most of the awards: 177 in total.

Country Gold (G) Silver (S) Bronze (B) Total
1. US  977  758  668  2403
2. Russia  528  446  440  1414
3. Germany  412  432  461  1305
4. Britain  237  272  271  780
5. France  201  223  445  669
6. Italy  198  166  185  549
7. Sweden  143  163  177  483
8. Hungary  167  145  164  476
9. China  201  144  128  473
10. Australia  138  153  176  467

History and Monetary worth of Olympic Medal

The Olympic Games in Rio have been passed and of course, all countries wanted to get the most medals. We have decided to study how many awards each country has won and its real monetary value.

Not surprisingly, among the nations competing in modern games, the United States has won the most gold, silver and bronze medals, totaling 2,403 awards to date. It has almost 1,000 Olympic honors more than the country in the second place which is Russia.

But what is the real monetary value of the gold, silver and bronze medals? We have calculated the value of the awards for each of the nation in the following report.

The calculation is not as easy as it seems since, as throughout history, the content of precious metals has been varying. For example, the Rio 2016 medal was the largest medal ever given in the Olympic games of the modern era. They measure 8.5 cm in diameter with a depth of 6 mm and a 11 mm deep dome-shaped center. The gold-medal would have weighed 1 kg if the Brazilian made it of pure gold and it would have been worth $ 39,812 at current prices.

However, the G-medal is a mixture of metals and it contains almost half a kilo of silver and only 6 grams of gold. Therefore, the it would have a monetary value of $ 546 at the current wholesale market.

In fact, as for the gold content of the Olympic gold medal, only two of the 27 most recent editions of Olympics gave the winners a prize entirely of this precious metal.

In the first modern Games, celebrated in Athens in 1896, the first winners did not receive gold but a silver medal and a crown of olive branches. The latter were given a bronze-medal.

Four years later in Paris, the tradition of giving the gold-medal as first prize started. However in the following two editions of St Louis 1904 and London 1908, medals of pure gold were distributed to the Olympic winners.

Since then, the Olympic G-medals are mostly of silver with a little precious metal plated over them. The composition has changed slightly over time but the shape and size of Olympic awards has undergone major changes.

Although today we think of round Olympic medals, but in Paris 1900 they were rectangular in shape. Moreover they were oval in shape in Stockholm 1912 games. The thinnest of those in were Stockholm in 1956 with a depth of only 2.5 mm. The thickest of them were of Barcelona in 1992, with a depth of almost 1 cm.

In London the largest medals have been awarded (8.5 cm in 2012) and the smallest were also given in London 1908 games (3.5 cm). In London games 2012, giant medals were produced by the Royal Mint UK. They were also the heaviest before Rio games, with 412 grams of silver.

Although the Rio 2016 gold-medal weighs over half a kilo but those medaled in London 2012 are still the most expensive since when it was awarded.

The truth is that there is only small information available on the exact metallic composition of the medals awarded in the last 27 Games since the modern Olympics began 120 years ago. So for every medal awarded outside those two years of pure precious metal (1904 and 1908), we applied the composition of golden, silver and bronze medals as shown in the following points:

  • Gold: 1.34% gold, 92.5% silver, and 6.16% copper;
  • Silver: 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper;
  • Bronze: 97% copper, 2.5% zinc and 0.5% tin.

Although there is much more silver than gold, the value of all Olympic medals is $ 2,488,801 at current prices. Olympic athletes in the United States have won $620,588 in 2,403 awards.

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