Olympic Medals for Sale at Auctions

ByABC News
September 27, 2000, 4:40 AM

Sept. 27 -- Its easier than ever to get an Olympic gold medal.

That is, if you have the cash.

With competitive online auction houses like eBay selling Olympic medals and memorabilia, even a couch potato can pick up a gold, silver or bronze medal from years past. Some auction bids start as low as $36 for a medal from the 1936 Berlin Olympics, though of course the final selling price could be much higher.

There are close to 5 million items on eBay right now and increasingly, a significant amount of items are associated with sports, including Olympic medals, says eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove. As events conclude in the [Sydney] Olympics, the number of individuals and athletes involved in sports memorabilia on eBay become greater.

Olympic Pins Started the Frenzy

Since audiences saw spectators vigorously trading Olympic pins at the Atlanta Games four years ago, the frenzy over Olympic memorabilia has become so intense that several online memorabilia sites have popped up. Olympic tickets and even the Olympic torch, a medal and a torch runners shoes from the Berlin Games are available.

Authentic medals as well as team participation medals and programs have become the hottest properties because of their rarity and their sense of history, according to Ingrid ONeil, who has conducted auctions for the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Everybody would like to have a medal but they are very expensive, says ONeil. They usually run in the thousands at auction.

Dont expect to find many American medals up for grabs, though. And usually, Eastern European athletes hock their medals for cash.

Money is a big consideration for those athletes, ONeil says. A few thousand dollars to a Russian athlete is very important and a lot of money. It reflects on the conditions some athletes have to endure.

A gold medal won by a Greco-Roman wrestler from the Iron Curtain during the 1984 Los Angeles Games sold for $8,000 at an auction ONeil organized for the U.S. Olympic Committee about two years ago.