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19 Weird Olympics Facts You Probably Didn't Know

Those gold medals are, like, barely gold.

1. Gold medals are not made of pure gold.

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They're actually silver with a gold plating. The last time the gold medals were made of pure gold was 1912.

2. The first black athlete to win the marathon event did it barefoot.

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Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila was the first black athlete to win gold in the marathon, when he outran everyone in the 1960 Olympics...with no shoes on.

3. The first modern Olympics in 1896 didn't even have gold medals.

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The top spot got a silver medal and an olive branch, in reference to the original Greek games. Second place got a bronze medal, and third place got absolutely nothing.

4. The 1900 Olympics were notoriously disorganized and not well attended.

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Some national teams were actually composed of athletes from multiple different countries.

5. The first athlete suspended from the Olympics was suspended for — wait for it — alcohol.

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Swedish pentathlete Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall tested positive for alcohol in the 1968 games, which was against the rules at the time. Currently, alcohol will only disqualify an athlete at a blood alcohol level of over 0.1 in sports where it would be dangerous, such as archery.

6. The 1900 Olympics featured a competitor who is still unknown to this day, and may be the youngest ever.

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The Dutch rowing team was lacking a coxswain, so they chose a local French boy to fill in. To this day, no one knows the boy's identity, and many estimate him to have been around 10 years old.

7. The Olympic flag represents every country in the world.

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The rings are meant to represent the five continents (they count America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania). As for the colors, every single flag of every country in the world contains at least one of those colors: yellow, green, red, black, and blue.

8. American marathon runner Fred Lorz was disqualified for riding in a car during the race.

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During the 1904 games in St. Louis, Lorz sneakily hitched a ride in a car for most of the race, then ran the last four miles.

9. The 1912 games in Stockholm had an event for literature.

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The arts competition was founded by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who was also the founder of the modern games. Incidentally, he also won the gold medal in literature that year.

10. Swimmer Johnny Weismuller was a five-time gold medalist in swimming, and also played Tarzan in 12 movies.

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Weismuller coined the famous Tarzan yell.

11. The longest wrestling match in the history of the games took more than 11 hours.

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It was the Greco-Roman wrestling semifinal in 1912, between Martin Klein of Russia and Alfred Asikainen of Finland. Klein won, but couldn't even compete in the final as he was too exhausted from the 11-hour match.

12. Athletes in the Olympic Village reportedly used 70,000 condoms at the 2000 games, and 100,000 at the 2008 games. There will be 450,000 provided in 2016.

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So, yeah.

13. America's first-ever gold medalist (or first-place finisher, since gold medals didn't exist back then) had to drop out of Harvard to compete.

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James Connolly asked for leave from Harvard to compete in the 1896 games, but Harvard denied his request. He had to drop out of his course to attend the games, where he placed first in the triple jump. Later, Harvard offered him an honorary degree, but Connolly refused it.

14. American golfer Margaret Abbott placed first in the 1900 games by accident.

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Abbott was visiting Paris for the World's Fair, and thought that there was a regular golf tournament going on. She decided to compete, and won, and only found out after returning to the US that she had become the first American woman to win gold.

15. Uganda has the shortest national anthem at just eight bars of music.

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That's convenient, since medal ceremonies shorten or speed up national anthems so that they only last one minute.

16. Because of Australian quarantine rules, equestrian events at the 1956 games in Melbourne were actually held in Stockholm, Sweden.

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If only Johnny Depp had known that fact.

17. Muhammad Ali was terrified of flying, so he wore a parachute during his flight to the 1960 games in Rome.

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Ali still won the gold, of course.

18. Nadia Comaneci was the first to score a perfect 10.0 in the uneven bars, but the scoreboards displayed it as a 1.0 instead.

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Most likely because a perfect 10.0 came as such a big surprise.

19. McDonald's lost millions because the USA was too good in the 1984 games.

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The fast food restaurant was offering free soda, fries, and Big Macs to customers if the US won gold in certain events on McDonald's scratch cards. At the previous games in 1976, the USA won 34 gold medals. But since the Communist Bloc boycotted the 1980 games, the USA won 83 gold medals, which caused restaurants to run out of Big Macs and cost the company much more than expected.

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The opening ceremony begins Friday, Aug. 5, at 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 CT on NBC. Click here for more Olympics content!

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