Nugget of Knowledge: Olympic Medal metal

An Olympic Gold Medal is actually more silver than gold

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Olympians have a tendency to bite their gold medals like children with a favorite toy.

How come?

The practice of biting gold coins goes back to the days when gold was a common form of payment.

Gold is a relatively soft metal, so biting it was a reliable way of seeing if it was real. You could sink your teeth into it, and teeth are strong enough to do that.

No teeth marks meant lead that was gold plated.

Today, the photographers at the games usually say, ‘Hey, bite on your medal, will you? It’ll make for a more interesting photo.’

The last time the games awarded a solid gold medal was the 1912 Stockholm Olympics.

The gold medal today is actually 92.5 percent pure silver, plated with gold, worth about $600. The silver medal is 92.5 percent pure silver.

So, the only difference is cosmetic.

The bronze medal, by the way, is copper.

Did you miss an episode of Daybreak, or want to re-visit a previous ‘Nugget’? View previous ‘Nugget of Knowledge’ entries on

Do you have an idea for a ‘Nugget of Knowledge,’ send your idea in an email to

Comments are closed.