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This Is Why Olympians Bite Their Medals In Photos

Gold medals are actually made of chocolate! (JK.)

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You've probably seen a million, billion, gazillion photos of Olympians biting down on their new medals.

Yum, tasty snack...?
Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

Yum, tasty snack...?

And it's not a new phenomenon, either.

This is the 1991 Great Britain track-and-field team.
Gray Mortimore / Getty Images

This is the 1991 Great Britain track-and-field team.

So why does everyone chomp down on their medal like it's a stick of beef jerky?

Al Bello / Getty Images
Clive Owen / Getty Images
Damien Meyer / Getty

The answer is that the photographers pretty much force them to (lol).

“It’s become an obsession with the photographers,” David Wallechinsky, the president of the International Society of Olympic Historians, told CNN. “I think they look at it as an iconic shot, as something that you can probably sell. I don’t think it’s something the athletes would probably do on their own.”
Eric Feferberg / AFP / Getty Images

“It’s become an obsession with the photographers,” David Wallechinsky, the president of the International Society of Olympic Historians, told CNN. “I think they look at it as an iconic shot, as something that you can probably sell. I don’t think it’s something the athletes would probably do on their own.”

Because you can only have so many dorky photos of medalists just standing there and smiling, right?

Martin Meissner / AP

And of course, one historic way to tell if gold is real is to bite down on it.

Your teeth will leave marks in real gold, which is soft.
Heritage Auctions / Wikipedia / Via en.wikipedia.org

Your teeth will leave marks in real gold, which is soft.

(Psssst: The gold medal is actually made mostly of silver.)

Rio's gold medals, like all gold medals since 1912, aren't made of solid gold. (They're only about 1.2% gold this year.)
Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

Rio's gold medals, like all gold medals since 1912, aren't made of solid gold. (They're only about 1.2% gold this year.)

Biting your medal can be hazardous. In 2010, German luger David Moeller (left) chipped his front tooth while biting his silver medal for photographers.

Alberto Pizzoli / AFP / Getty Images

Yeah, it's a pretty weird tradition.

Carl De Souza / AFP / Getty Images

Some Olympians choose to kiss their medals instead.

Jewel Samad / AFP / Getty Images

But without it, we would never have known about Ryan Lochte's legendary 2010 grill.

Patrick Baz / AFP / Getty Images
Clive Rose / Getty

Now we just need a photo of someone chomping down on their colorful Rio figurine.

YOUR MOVE, SIMONE.
Alex Livesey / Getty

YOUR MOVE, SIMONE.

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