Like most others, you have probably stopped counting the number of times you see Olympians biting on their newly won medals in photos. This is nothing new either. There is a famous pic depicting the same action from the 1991 track and field team from Great Britain. So what exactly is up with that? Why do they bite on it as if it’s a piece of pizza? The answer is that the photographers instruct them to do so.
For a reason only known to them, photographers have practically become obsessed with a shot that includes the medal winner nibbling on their medal. Some speculate that it may create a more iconic shot that would be easier to monetize. It is not seen as something the Olympians would do spontaneously. It could possibly also have something to do with the fact that they want something different than medalists just standing there with a Cheshire cat grin in each and every pic.
Another point of view is that biting down on gold to make sure it is real has been done since the earliest times. If the gold was real it would be soft enough to show your teeth marks while fake gold wouldn’t. Just a little heads up, the medals are made with a bigger percentage of silver than gold. The medals handed out in Rio this year is only about 1.2%. No medals have been made from solid gold since 1912.
Chomping down on your medal, no matter what the metal, may not be the best idea as David Moeller (luger for Germany) found out when he chipped a tooth while doing it with his silver in 2010. Some Olympians find it a weird tradition too, opting to rather kiss it but if not for this…shall we call it a tradition…we would never have known about Ryan Lochte’s, now legendary, mouthpiece in 2010. Now we just need to wait and see how long it takes before Olympians start nipping at their multi-colored Rio figurines.