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Here’s Why Olympians Bite Their Medals

There's an interesting backstory behind this Olympic tradition.

Most TV sets across the world are tuned in to the Olympics day in and day out right about now. Watching this athletic greatness take place is cause for many questions.

“Whoa, how do they do that?” is a common question in my household, for example. Another thing you’re likely wondering, though, is why do Olympic medalists bite their medals?

Well, folks, according to a very informative video on YouTube, they do it mainly out of tradition. You used to be able to tell gold’s authenticity by trying to bend it with your teeth.

Because tooth enamel is harder than pure gold, you would be able to leave marks behind on a purely gold coin. But, if the coin were simply plated in gold with say, lead as the center, then you would not be able to leave an indentation behind.

2016 Olympic Team GOLD Medalist

A post shared by Simone Biles (@simonebiles) on

Of course, these days, Olympians are not trying to test the authenticity of their medal. It is a tradition to do this, however, and the Olympic games are all about tradition. Biting the coin also makes a more interesting shot for the photographer.

Another fun fact—today’s gold medals are not pure gold. They’re actually silver with gold plating.

To learn more fun facts about the Olympics (or how to test gold’s authenticity), take a look at the video below.

So, there’s at least one Olympic mystery solved. As to the “How do they do that?” question… we may never know.

[h/t: Curiosity]