The thrill of winning a gold medal at the Olympics is what athlete’s dreams are made of. While the excitement of being the best should be enough, it does not exactly pay the bills. In the U.S., gold medal winners get $25,000 ($15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze) from the U.S. Olympic Committee.

If you think this is an easy pay day, think again. Not only do other countries pay more (Italy pays $182,000 for gold medal winners, whereas Russia pays $135,000), but America also taxes heavily on that $25,000 bonus cash prize. Gold medal winners can expect to pay upwards of $ $9,900 in takes on the $25,000. This cash prize does not even begin to cover how much it costs for an athlete to train and prepare at the Olympic level.

How Much Is a Gold Medal Worth?

It is hard to peg an exact dollar amount on each medal, since each medal has a unique story behind it. Also, some sports and athletes are more profitable than others. Age of the medal is also a factor to consider.

At a scrap-level value, the award is only worth about $501, since the medal is not entirely made out of gold. (For more, read The Stock Market Loves The Olympics.)

Do Olympic Athletes Ever Sell Their Gold Medals?

For many athletes, their field is not the most profitable, unless they garner the publicity and sponsors they need to make money outside of the Olympic arena. While some athletes would never think about selling the precious gold medal status symbol, others do so through private auction houses.

Mark Wells won a gold medal in the 1980s games for hockey, and sold the medal for $310,700 in 2010. He needed the money to pay for costly medical treatments to treat his rare genetic disease that affected his spinal cord.

Anthony Ervin sold his 2000 gold medal in swimming directly on eBay in 2004. He donated the $17,101 profit to victims of the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

How Much Do Olympic Winners Make on Endorsements?

Some popular Olympic winners will earn million-dollar endorsement deals and sponsorships. Some will even land coveted sport commentary positions, while others will go on to sign book deals. Other athletes of unpopular sports will have their moment in the spotlight, then be quickly forgotten.

Missy Franklin won four gold medals for swimming in the 2012 games, but is only worth $3 million. However, she did turn down a $5 million sponsorship so that she could go to college, and she does not regret the decision.

The true worth of an Olympic gold medal is the worth of the neck it hangs around. In the 2012 Olympics, the United States took home 46 gold medals, but most people have forgotten the names of even some of the top winners.