Why Did the Olympic Athletes Bite Their Gold Medals?

I just know on TV, they said Olympic athletes biting their gold medals signified something. But they never said what.

What does it signify? And why do they do it?


Gold is supposed to be soft enough to bite into a little bit, so goes the legend.

Plus, you get kind of hungry after swimming 2000 meters.

According to one Olympic athlete, they bit the medals because the photographers asked them to do it.

An hommage to Underdog? At :48…

Olympic Gold medals are actually made of silver, with a gold plating on the outside.

Are Olympic Medals Real Gold? What Olympic Gold Medals Are Made Of | StyleCaster

I think the construction is different for every Olympiad. IIRC, a few years ago, they were largely transparent (glass? Polycarbonate?).

It’s an age-old test to check if a gold coin is counterfeit:

At the very least, biting would distinguish between gold and tungsten, the only non-precious metal of comparable density. Tungsten is notoriously hard.

Also, for that reason, it has become a long-lasting cultural meme that is used in entertainment to show that the person who receives a coin has some doubt as to its authenticity. For at least 100 years it’s mostly been played for a laugh, and that is what the Olympians were doing.

Today I learned…
That winners used to be taxed in the value of their medals!

I just assumed it was a conventional photographer’s trope, as in

  • all university graduates must throw their caps in the air
  • all young people receiving good news (in the UK, particularly good exam results) jump in the air in a group

etc., etc.

On photographers’ tropes, you might be mildly amused by the Facebook group (and website) Angry People in Local Newspapers.

Since this is directly related to the Olympics, let’s move this to the Game Room (from IMHO).

They only bite their medals if there is no mayor around to do it for them.