For athletes all over the world, representing their country on the international stage is the dream. The epitome of many sporting careers is lifting their sport’s most prestigious trophy for their country. To many athletes, these trophies and what they represent are priceless. However, everyone knows that Olympic medals aren’t actually solid gold. So, what exactly are some of the world’s greatest sports trophies made of and what are they really worth? Here’s a look at the top 10 most expensive…
- FIFA World Cup Trophy – Football – $20 million
Made from: 18-carat gold
Probably the world’s most prestigious and expensive trophy. Awarded to the winners of the FIFA World Cup, the names of winning countries are engraved on the bottom of the trophy. The original trophy, the Jules Rimet Trophy, featured the Goddess of Victory. The current trophy, the FIFA World Cup Trophy was introduced to replace the Jules Rimet Trophy in 1974. The new design depicts two human figures holding up the Earth. The Jules Rimet was made from gold-plated silver, but the 1974 version is made from 18-carat gold mounted on two layers of malachite. The trophy’s had an eventful history. From being hidden in a shoebox under a bed during World War II, to being stolen, recovered by a dog called Pickles, and then stolen again in 1983, never to be seen again. When it was first made, the trophy cost $50,000 but these days is valued at about $20 million. Small wonder, the winning side only receives a gold-plated replica.
2. Woodlawn Vase – Horse Riding – $2.5 million
Made from: Solid Sterling Silver
Standing at 36 inches tall and weighing 30 pounds of solid sterling silver, this trophy has a colourful history. The trophy is annually presented to the winner of the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of America’s horse-racing triple crown. Created by Tiffany and Company of New York in 1860, the Woodlawn Vase was first awarded in 1861. The subsequent outbreak of the American Civil War led to the vase being buried at Woodlawn Farm in Kentucky, lest it be discovered and melted into shot for the Confederate Army Soldiers. The competition began again post-war in 1866 and until 1953 the trophy was taken home for a year by each winner between competitions. The bullion value is around £5,000 but its insurance value is said to exceed $2.5 million. Unsurprisingly, the original trophy is now kept at the Baltimore Museum of Art in Maryland for safe keeping and escorted each year to the Preakness Stakes by the Maryland Army National Guard Soldiers and Air National Guard Airmen.
3. Borg-Warner Trophy – Motorsport – $1.3 million
Made from: Hollow Sterling Silver
Probably the biggest trophy in sport, the Borg-Warner Trophy stands 1.625 m high and weighs 45 kg. On the top of the trophy is a naked man (after the tradition of Ancient Greek athletes) waving a checkered flag. The trophy is awarded to the winner of the Indianapolis 500 and was first presented in 1936. When commissioned it cost a then whopping $10,000 but is now reckoned to be worth some $1.3 million. Made from sterling silver, the trophy is actually hollow and is unique in that a sculptured image of the winning driver is added to the trophy every year. The Trophy is also inscribed with each winner’s name, year of victory, and average speed. Since 1988 winners have received a 460 mm replica, known as a ‘Baby Borg’.
4. FA Cup – Football – $1,000,000
Made from: Solid Sterling Silver
The FA Cup is presented to the winners of the world’s oldest association football competition. Since the tournament began in 1872, there have been five trophies. Costing £20, the first trophy was stolen in 1895 from a Birmingham Shop where it was being displayed for fans to view. A replica of the stolen cup was created in time for the next tournament. After Manchester United won the tournament in 1909, they made their own replica. Realising they didn’t own the design copyright, the FA commissioned a new design, the one we recognise today. The larger, newly designed trophy was made in time for the 1911 Cup final. Trophy number three stayed in circulation until 1992, when it was retired to preserve it. An exact replica was created, but in 2014 trophy number four also needed a replacement due to damage. The current trophy, number five, remains the same height (61.5cm) as the 1911 and 1992 versions, but is a lot sturdier than previous trophies, weighing in at 6.3kg of sterling silver.
5. Stanley Cup – Ice Hockey – $650,000
Made from: Mixture of silver and nickel alloy
The Stanley Cup is the oldest existing trophy to be awarded to a professional sports franchise, dating back to 1892. It was donated to Canada’s top amateur ice hockey side by Lord Stanley of Preston, then Governor General of Canada. In the early years, the Cup was played for on a challenge basis as the leagues in which competing sides played had no play-off system. By 1927, however, the NHL had formed and included teams from both the USA and Canada. The Stanley Cup became the premier prize. Since then, the Montreal Canadiens have won it a record number of times and are the most successful Canadian-based team in the competition. Whilst the Detroit Red Wings have won it the most of any United States-based team. Teams are traditionally awarded the Cup on the ice but do not get to keep it.
6. Vince Lombardi Trophy – American Football – $50,000
Made from: Solid Sterling Silver
The only trophy on our list to be recreated each year and presented to the winning team to keep, this trophy is awarded to the NFL Super Bowl champions. Named in NFL coach Vince Lombardi’s honour, it is recreated from scratch every year at a cost of $50,000. The trophy is the second on our list to be designed and created by Tiffany and Company of New York. At nearly two feet tall and shaped like a kick-ready American football, it is made from sterling silver and takes four months to complete. After the final gun sounds, trophy is presented to the winning team, then sent back to Tiffany to be cleaned and engraved with their team name, the date and final score of the Super Bowl. The trophy is then returned to the champions for them to keep. And which team has the most Vince Lombardi trophies? That honour goes to Pittsburgh Steelers with a total of six to date.
7. ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy – Cricket – $30,000
Made from: Gold & Sterling Silver
This trophy is presented to the winners of the Cricket World Cup finals, which takes place every four years. The current trophy was created for the 1999 championships and was the first permanent prize in the tournament’s history. Before this, different trophies were made for each World Cup. The current trophy took a team of craftsmen two months to create, and depicts a golden globe held up by three silver columns. The three columns represent batting, bowling and fielding, the three fundament aspects of cricket. The names of previous winners are engraved on the base of the trophy. The original trophy is kept by the International Cricket Council in their Dubai offices. Whilst a replica is awarded to the winning team for their trophy cabinet.