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The Price of Olympic Gold - 6 Athletes Who Sold Their Medals

Clinching a medal at the Olympic Games is considered to be the pinnacle of an athlete’s career. The Olympic medal symbolizes worldwide recognition of the athlete’s achievements. It is proof that all the hard work and training have finally paid off.
But anyone’s life can take an unexpected turn, and even Olympians are not immune to change. And sometimes, that change means giving up and parting ways with their hard-earned medal. Find out why these 6 Olympic athletes decided to sell their gold and silver medals.

Two “Miracle on Ice” hockey team members sold their gold medals

For the uninitiated, the "Miracle on Ice" was a famous ice hockey game at the 1980 Winter Olympics. During the iconic game on February 22, 1980, the hosting American team won against the team from the Soviet Union, clinching the sought-after gold medals. Since the 1980 game, two members of the team - Mark Pavelich and Mark Wells - decided to sell their gold medals.
Wells was the first to auction off his medal in 2010 for the impressive sum of 310,700 US dollars. The star athlete was forced to part with his medal to pay for multiple spinal surgeries after being diagnosed with a rare genetic condition. In 2014, the late Mark Pavelich also decided to sell his medal for 262,900 USD. He revealed in interviews that he did it to support his daughter, “I want her to get a step forward in life. That’s probably the biggest reason.”

Wladimir Klitschko

Olympic Athletes Who Sold Their Medals Wladimir Klitschko
The 1996 Olympic Games that took place in Atlanta were a memorable time for Ukrainian athletes. This was the first time in the Games’ history that Ukraine was represented as an independent country, and not part of the USSR. Wladimir Klitschko’s victory against Paea Wolfgramm in the Super-heavyweight boxing made the Atlanta Olympics even more joyous.
The boxing champion’s decision to auction off his Olympic gold medal in 2012 was a necessary sacrifice. Klitschko donated the $1 million he earned for the medal to the Klitschko Brothers Foundation, which funds Ukrainian child athletes. To everyone’s great surprise, the anonymous benefactor who purchased the medal returned it to Klitschko immediately.

Otylia Jedrzejczak

The Polish swimming champion had announced that she would be donating her medal to charity before she was even qualified to participate at the 2004 Athens Olympics. “I don't need the medal to remember,” she stated. “I know I'm the Olympic champion. That's in my heart.”
After winning Olympic gold for her outstanding performance on the 200m butterfly, Jedrzejczak kept her promise. She donated the 80,000 USD she got for her medal to a charity in Poland that helps children with leukemia.

Piotr Malachowski

Another Polish athlete, Piotr Malachowski, decided to follow in Jedrzejczak’s footsteps. In 2016, the Polish discus thrower earned the silver medal at the Summer Olympics in Rio for reaching his personal best throw of 71.84 meters, which is also the fifth-longest throw of all time.
In 2014, the Olympic athlete posted on Facebook that he is set to selling his medal to raise money for a child named Olek battling retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer. “If you help him, my silver medal might be more valuable to Olek than gold,” Malachowski wrote in the Facebook post. Ultimately, the Polish billionaire siblings Dominic and Sebastian Kulczyk bought the medal, covering the remaining cost of Olek’s eye surgery.

Anthony Ervin

At the 2000 Sydney Games, American swimmer Anthony Ervin won the gold medal in the 50m freestyle race. In 2003, the then 22-year-old athlete decided to step down from his swimming career. He sold his gold medal on eBay for $17,101 and ended up donating the proceeds to the survivors of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Interestingly, the athlete returned to swimming in 2011 and appeared at both the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics. In 2016, 16 years after his first victory, Ervin clinched gold for the second time. At age 35, Ervin became the oldest Olympic swimmer to win the gold medal.
Share this fascinating Olympics trivia with those who love sports!
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