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“I Was Stalked For My Olympic Medals,” And Other Crazy Medal Stories

By Lisa Costantini | May 05, 2016, 4:15 p.m. (ET)

If medals could talk, the stories they would tell. There would be tales of suspense and sorrow and pain and wisdom — and those are just from the medals that have been dropped. Then there are the medals that have been stolen and stalked and held for ransom. They could tell even more dramatic tales involving hope and loss, and suspense and joy. Here are some of those stories — eight crazy events involving medals that are almost hard to believe.

1. Kim Rhode, Five Shooting Medals

“I was stalked for my medals and my gun. Just before an Olympic qualifier at the last Olympics, I had gone out to do a PSA about a two-hour drive from my house and was followed. When I made a stop on the way back, they broke into my vehicle and took my gun. Luckily I had my medals on me but it took about nine months to get my gun back. So that was kind of crazy.”

2. Jessica Long, 17 Paralympic Swimming Medals

“Currently right now I actually don’t know where one of them is. It’s funny because I have one in a museum, I have some at my parents’ house, I have one in my bag with me, but as I was packing for this (the Media Summit in Los Angeles) I was like I don’t know where my one medal is. I called my parents and they were like, ‘We don’t have it, Jess.’ So right now I’m down a medal. It’s a gold one, from Beijing. It’s not really gone, it’s just misplaced. And it doesn’t take away from the fact that I love them.”

3. Merrill Moses, Water Polo Silver Medal

“In December of 2010 I was playing professionally in Italy. My girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, was with me. Instead of going home for Christmas, I surprised her with a trip to Jamaica, where I was going to propose and planned for both our parents be there. It was a great event, and she said yes. But later on in the trip we found out that my parents’ house had been broken into. And one of the things they took — amongst a lot of other things — was my Olympic silver medal. It never turned up, and sadly it probably ended up in the trash because I don’t think they were there to steal that. I think they just saw it in the drawer and grabbed it. I did get a replica medal a couple years later. The only difference from the original is that in very small print it says replica. So if anything, this just drives me to go and get a gold medal that doesn’t say replica.”

4. Meghan Musnicki, Rowing Gold Medal

“One time I was at the Newark airport and had to bring my medal with me. I don’t like to check it ever so I had it in my pocketbook. When it went through the scanner it of course set it off. You could see them pointing to the screen to where it’s lighting up and a whole bunch of people come over and are like, ‘What’s this?’ When I tell them they were like, ‘Holy, can we have your picture? That’s so cool.’”

5. Maggie Steffens, Water Polo Gold Medal

“I remember wearing my medal at a welcome home party for my sister [teammate Jessica Steffens] and I at my house. At that time the medal was — and still is — extremely precious to me. This one woman who I didn’t know very well was asking me how I posed with the medal after winning. ‘Did you bite the medal? Everyone bites the medal,’ she said. And as I was talking she just grabs my medal and bites it. I laughed it off but really inside I was like, ‘Nooooo.’ I’m sure it was probably the coolest moment for her so I’m happy I could be a part of it.”

6. Vincent Hancock, Two Shooting Gold Medals

“Three days after I got back from Beijing, I was showing people my medals in (Fort Benning, Georgia). I’m an Army private, and a Navy lieutenant who was about 6-foot-5 was holding my medal. Just as he was about to give it back to me, he dropped it. It landed right on its side and now it has a flat side. He never said anything other than oops. So now I have an indelible mark that will never go away.”

7. Devin Logan, Freeskiing Silver Medal

“TAO Las Vegas threw me a party for my 21st birthday and Jason Derulo performed. I got up on stage with him and handed over my medal and he sang his set with it around his neck. It was one heck of a party.”

8. Rowdy Gaines, Three Swimming Gold Medals

“About 20 years ago one of my gold medals was stolen out of a lock box at a health club. I had visited a school earlier that day and took it to show the kids. When I went to the gym after, I didn’t want to leave it in the car and didn’t want to take it with me to the pool, so I used the lock box in the locker room. When I came back, it was gone. I thought I would never see it again, but a couple days later I got a phone call from a guy who said he had my medal and if I wanted it back I had to pay him. I asked him how much he wanted and he said some outlandish number, I think like $10,000. I hung up on him. He ended up calling back. He swore he didn’t steal it but that it ended up in his hands. So I said, ‘Well then, I’ll be nice and give you $100.’ We met in a parking lot and I asked him to see the medal first. He showed it to me and I knew it was my medal, obviously. He gave me the medal and I gave him the money.”

Related Athletes

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Kim Rhode

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Jessica Long

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Merrill Moses

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Meghan Musnicki

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Maggie Steffens

Water Polo
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Vincent Hancock

Shotgun Shooting
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Devin Logan

Freestyle Skiing