Team USA’s Olympic Leotards Are Worth More Than Their Gold Medals

Gabrielle Douglas
(L-R) Madison Kocian, Gabrielle Douglas, Simone Biles, Alexandra Raisman and Laurie Hernandez of the United States. Laurence Griffiths/Getty

Worth more than gold. While the “Final Five” dominated the women’s all-around team final on Tuesday, August 9, during the Rio Summer Olympics 2016, spectators weren’t only mesmerized by their breathtaking flips and twirls. Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Madison Kocian, Laurie Hernandez and Simone Biles all stunned in red, white and blue leotards, each covered in nearly 5,000 Swarovski crystals.

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And these aren’t your average tumbling uniforms. “Each Olympian now receives a package with eight competition leotards and 12 training leotards. Each is custom-fit to her body, and on the open retail market, the heavily crystal-studded competition leotards would cost an average of $1,200 (more than many prom dresses),” The New York Times reports.

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Gabrielle Douglas
Gabrielle Douglas is photographed holding her gold medal. Laurence Griffiths/Getty

But believe it or not, there may be such a thing as too much bling. “It’s difficult for me to imagine how we could get more crystals on,” Kelly McKeown, executive vice president for design and corporate relations at GK Elite, the official outfitter of the American national gymnastics team, told the Times. “We may have hit peak crystal.” 

Simone Biles
Simone Biles in her USA leotard. Jean Catuffe/Getty

So peak that the Final Five gymnasts actually wore leotards that were worth more than the gold medals they won. “The ‘podium value’ of the gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics is approximately $564, based on the price of gold at $43.76 per gram and the price of sterling silver at 61 cents per gram, as of Thursday,” Forbes reports. That’s a far cry from 2012, when a medal was worth $708 due to the record high prices of silver and gold. And if it were 1912, when all-gold medals were given out, the awards would be valued at almost $22,000.

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Even though the crystals aren’t a surefire way to get the gold, they provide a priceless dose of confidence. “Obviously, sparkles are not an element in the scoring,” Samantha Peszek, who was part of the 2008 Olympic team, told The New York Times. “But it’s part of the ‘look good, feel good, do good’ aspect. It’s a very important part of the sport. It may sound trivial, but what you wear really matters. For some girls, it’s why they got into the sport.”

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