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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | Spotlight

Silver Lining

A look at the day that was and at what lies ahead at the Summer Games

July 31, 1996|MIKE KUPPER

When U.S. diver Mark Lenzi wanted to go to flight school a few years ago and couldn't come up with the tuition, he decided to sell the gold medal he had won at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

When the flying school learned of his plan, it waived the tuition for Lenzi and he didn't have to part with his medal.

But if he had gone through with his scheme, he would quickly have learned that although the medal represents excellence, it isn't worth a lot of money.

It isn't even gold.

The bronze medals are made of solid bronze, the silver medals are made of sterling silver . . . and so are the gold. Right, beneath each gold medal's gleaming face--all six grams of it--beats a heart of silver.

So, what is a gold medal's intrinsic worth? Probably less than $100. Silver is selling for about $5 an ounce and the medal weighs about three ounces, so there's $15. The six-gram gold coating? Gold was being traded Tuesday at about $385 an ounce, and six grams amount to slightly less than a fifth of an ounce, or $77. Put it all together and you get $92.

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