What's an Olympic gold medal worth? The woman who just won the 200meter butterfly in Athens is fixing to find out.
She's going to sell it.
Poland's Otylia Jedrzejczak will keep it until December, just to show her friends, pose for pictures and feel its tug on the back of her neck, and then she'll put it up for the highest bid at a Polish auction house.
She got the idea after reading a book about a child with leukemia who writes letters to God, telling how he feels about dying. The last entry is made by his nurse, who writes, Oscar was a very brave boy.
"I was waiting before my race, and I decided if I win the gold medal, God help me, I will give it to the children," she said last week from Warsaw.
What's a gold medal bring? Well, there's only about $100 worth of gold in a gold medal, but eBay bidders think they're worth more. Last week a gold won by Canadian boxer Albert Schneider at the 1920 Antwerp Games sold on the auction website for $3,676, and a gold won by Cuban catcher Alberto Hernandez at the '92 Barcelona Games went for $3,551. Up for bid this week were golds that Hernandez got in Atlanta in '96 and Romanian gymnast Ecaterina Szabo won in L.A. in '84. Hey, immortality doesn't put supper on the table.
"Oh, I am hoping for much more," Jedrzejczak said.
But won't you miss being able to see it, touch it, display it? "I do not need to see the medal to know I won it," she says. "The medal is in my heart."
Mark Spitz's nine gold medals aren't in his heart. They're in a safe-deposit box at all times. Rulon Gardner keeps his gold medal in a safe in his garage. Summer Sanders keeps hers in a sock drawer. Not exactly beacons of joy to the world.
Carl Lewis buried one of his nine golds with his father. Dick Button had his first one made into a belt buckle for his mother. Muhammad Ali threw his off a bridge. When Bill Johnson won the 1984 downhill in Sarajevo, reporters asked him what winning meant to him. "Millions and millions," Johnson said. He's still waiting.