By Jason Notte
The Street

A gold medal at the 2012 London Summer Olympics is valued in the hours, effort and money spent to obtain it, but all that glitters isn't gold.

The price of gold has soared from roughly $1,000 an ounce during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing to $1,584 an ounce by mid-July of this year. That's a pretty steep discount on 5 a.m. practices every day since age 5 or a national sports governing body's annual budget, but it gets even steeper when you consider the medal's true makeup.

If an Olympian or the average Joe tried to cash in a medal from this year's games by means other than an auction or a sports memorabilia dealer, they'd be parting with 92.5 percent silver, 6.16 percent copper and 1.34 percent gold. International Olympic Committee rules dictate that gold medals need to contain at least 550 grams of silver and at least six grams of pure gold coating. That adds up to a medal worth roughly $800 for "gold" medal winners in London, which is a huge discount from a medal worth its weight in gold.

While the medals have become weightier over time, it's been weight without the heft of much gold. In fact, the last Olympics to offer 100 percent gold medals was the 1912 games (the year before the Federal Reserve Act was enacted, incidentally.)

Given the current price of gold, if this year's medal was 100 percent gold, you could buy a decent new car with it. We took a look at the Olympic gold medals awarded throughout history and, by weight and by the $1,584-an-ounce market value set in mid-July, came up with the gold-equivalent value of the largest "gold" medals ever awarded. While some would be worth as much as the Hyundai Accent or the down payment on a modest home, the biggest medals of the bunch could put more than a pound of gold in a lucky athlete's pocket:

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By Jason Notte
The Street

Don't buy your beer cans this summer based by the size of their mouths, the cold-activated decals on their labels or the hole in their tops that lets you chug like it's pledge week.

Buy them because there's fresh, untainted, enjoyable beer inside.

The can has been part of the American beer drinking experience since 1935, when Gottfried Kruger Brewing in Newark, N.J., rolled out the first packs of metal-clad suds. For much of the 20th century, they were big brewers' calling cards and are still commonly associated with the suitcases and 30 packs of Bud, Miller and Coors produced by Anheuser-Busch InBev and MolsonCoors.

The upside is that cans seal out more light and ultraviolet radiation than brown bottles and are lighter and easy to recycle than glass. The downside is that drinkers still associate cans with yellowish light lager and a harsh metallic taste. Even though canned beer variety has increased dramatically since Oskar Blues started canning Dale's Pale Ale in 2002, it's still tough to convince older drinkers that cans lined with water-based polymer won't taste like freshly licked tin foil.

Craft beer drinkers have been increasingly willing to give cans a try in recent years, however. The number of craft brewers canning brews increased from 130 last summer to more than 200 canning nearly 600 different beers this year, according to the folks at

That's a whole lot of beer to fit in your summer cooler and a broad spectrum between the lemony, Miller-produced Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy and flat-top Chuchkey beer packed with its own opener and backed by Entourage actor Adrian Grenier. To narrow it down a bit, we've checked in with CraftCans and selected 10 of the best canned craft brews to put on ice during the warm months:

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By Jason Notte

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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For the seventh consecutive time, NBC holds the broadcasting rights to the Summer Olympics. This year’s games will include 5,500 hour of coverage on NBC, its affiliated networks and its website.

The coverage will also feature a broadcasting team of over 100 of the world’s top announcers. Some will call sports in their preferred niche, while others will dabble in events outside of their comfort zone. NBC has also tabbed a group of Olympic rookies, some straight out of the entertainment business, to report the games to America.

Although most people may watch the Olympics for the athletes, the broadcasters have a plotline going as well. While some are familiar faces (Bob Costas as the primetime host, Dan Hicks on the call for swimming, Tom Hammond on the call for track and field), here are some of the announcers broadcasting under intriguing circumstances in London:

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Sure, athletes can get away with a lack of style. But "all spandex all the time" can only take one so far in the eyes of the fashion gods. So, let's give praise where praise is due to those Olympians who look just as fabulous, if not more so, out of their spandex.

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The United States has earned more hardware at the Summer Olympics than any other country, and the gap between first and second place is nearly 1,000 medals.

The U.S. has 2,296 medals -- 929 gold, 729 silver, 638 bronze -- in 25 summer appearances. The now defunct Soviet Union sits in second place with 1,010 medals. If you choose to combine that total with what Russia has won since the fall of the USSR, the total is 1,335.

Here are the most successful sports for the United States dating back to the first modern Olympics in 1896:

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With the NCAA releasing its sanctions on the Penn State Nittany Lions football program Monday, the extent of Joe Paterno's records is now clear. The program was stripped of its wins from the 1998-2011 seasons, taking away 112 victories, 111 of which were coached by Paterno.

The embattled coach, who passed away in January, had 409 career wins, first all-time among Division I coaches, before the punishment. Paterno now has 298 victories next to his name, good for seventh among Division-I coaches and fifth on the Division I-A coaches list.

Included in those 111 vacated victories are six bowl wins, comeback victories against Big Ten rivals and once-celebrated achievements in Paterno's career. Here are some of the notable Penn State victories of the Joe Paterno Era that will no longer count in the record books:

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Adam Scott may be feeling pretty lonely today. The Aussie blew a four-shot lead at the British Open with four holes to play, allowing Ernie Els to storm in and take the Claret Jug.

On the bright side, Scott's collapse wasn't nearly the most embarrassing at a Major, and at 32 he'll certainly have many chances to make up for his missed opportunity.

In looking at the worst collapses in Major history, Scott can take solace in knowing that he is up there with some of golf's greats -- Arnold Palmer, Phil Mickelson and Greg Norman, among others.

Hey, we all make mistakes. Luckily, most of our mistakes don't happen in front of millions of people and cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What Do You Think?
How Does Adam Scott's Collapse At The 2012 British Rate?
Tough but so were conditions
Top 5 ever
  • 18%
  • 19%
  • 33%
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  • 16%
Sure, that's how you feel...but what do your friends think?

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By Katherine Hunter

Cue John Williams' "Olympic Fanfare" -- who's excited for the 2012 London Olympics this summer? From Bruce Jenner’s 1976 decathlon win to gymnast Mary Lou Retton's 1984 perfect-10 vault to swimmer Dara Torres' 2008 triumph at 41, we are celebrating the upcoming Games with some superstars of past summers. Check out these nine Olympians and where they are today.

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Famous Olympians
Before They Were Famous ...
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On Sunday, Barry Larkin will become the eighth member of the Cincinnati Reds inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The 12-time All-Star shortstop played 19 seasons, all with the Reds, hitting .295 with 2,340 hits, 1,329 runs scored and 379 stolen bases. He also won an MVP award and a World Series championship.

Although not one of the loudest players to ever take the field, Larkin had a colorful career worthy of a few highlights:

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