By Jason Notte
InvestingAnswers

Team USA will pay a hefty price for its share of the gold, silver and bronze at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, but even the medals table has a bargain bin.

The U.S. Olympic Committee shelled out more than $232 million in 2008 to help American athletes win 110 medals in Beijing -- the site of the previous Summer Olympic Games. That's $2.1 million per medal, but doesn't include the cash kicked in by each sport's governing body from sponsors, donors and special events. For example, USA Basketball took a little less than $1 million from the USOC to send the men's and women's teams to China four years ago, but spent $5.8 million overall on gold-medal efforts from LeBron James, Diana Taurasi and company.

That's a lofty $2.9 million per medal, which is nearly five times what the U.S. modern pentathlon and badminton programs spent on their Olympic programs combined in 2008. The birdie smashers and five-sporters left empty handed, but any medal those programs took home would have been the steal of the games.

But the real question remains: How much can be spent on a single medal? The answer: Almost the sky's the limit, it seems. We're talking about many millions per medal.

To give Team USA fans some idea of which Olympic sports get the most -- and least -- medal for their money, we went over the financial statements and tax information of each Summer Olympic sport's governing body to see how much they spent during the 2008 games. We divided that amount by the number of medals earned and came up with America's five most resourceful Summer Olympics squads and its five biggest spenders. Here's a hint: LeBron doesn't appear in either list.

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