What Are Olympic Medals Made Of? Why Does Every Country Have A Flag?

Feb 16, 2018

What are Olympic medals made of? Why does every country have a flag? The 2018 Winter Olympics are underway in PyeongChang, South Korea. We reached out to medal-winning Olympians Elana Meyers Taylor, Andrew Weibrecht and Hannah Kearney to reflect on what winning a medal represents. And we learn about flags with vexillologist Scot Guenter from San Jose State University.


What exactly are Olympic medals made out of? - Helena, 12, St. Paul, MN

There are three medals that get awarded to the top finishers in a race or a game: gold for first place, silver for second place and bronze for third place.

The Olympic medals are named for the metal they are made out of. And the silver and bronze medals are still made out of...you guessed it, silver and bronze!

But a solid gold medal would be worth a lot of money! And way too expensive to make as many as they would need for all the winners at the Olympics. There are 259 sets of medals for this year's Games.

The Olympic committee says the gold medal is actually made out of silver. Then it's covered with a thin layer of real gold. The medals are slightly different size, depending on whether you win gold or silver or bronze, but they each weigh about a pound.

The medals are worth some money, but athletes will tell you it's not the dollar figure that makes them valuable.

Listen to the full episode to hear from Olympians and for an answer to our question about flags.