The Golden States: Which U.S. States Are Home to the Most Olympic Medalists?

The United States topped the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games medal table both in swimming and overall.

Take a look at which states have earned the most gold for Team USA since 1896 – that’s more than 60 summer and winter Games total.

This data was calculated by sportsbook website BetUS.

Californian athletes have kept the gold rush going, amassing 491 gold Olympic medals since 1896. That’s almost double the amount that New York, the state with the 2nd-most gold medals in the country, has won (246).

Data and map courtesy of BetUS

California is home to 9-time Olympic gold medalist Mark Spitz. He won 7 of his gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympics, all of which were earned with World Record times.

The swimmers with the next-highest amount of gold medals in California are Matt Biondi and Aaron Peirsol. 

Biondi won 8 Olympic gold medals over the course of 3 Olympic Games and set a total of 12 individual World Records during his career. Peirsol, also a three-time Olympian, has 5 gold medals. He set the 100m back World Record a total of 6 times and the 200m back World Record 7 times during his career.

Together they total 13 Olympic gold medals.

New Jersey, with its relatively small population size of about 8.9 million as of 2019 compared to California’s 39.5 million, is small but mighty. The state is ranked #6 on the U.S. Olympic gold medal count with 92 medals since 1896.

Data and chart courtesy of BetUS

This year, 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby made headlines by becoming Alaska’s first-ever Olympic swimmer. Then, she won their 3rd gold medal in any sport since 1896.

Wyoming and North Dakota sit at the bottom of this count. They have won 1 and 2 gold medals, respectively, since 1896.

Note that individual Olympic gold medals were counted, as well as team gold medals. For example, if a team won gold, in this data a medal would be counted for each member of the team.

Also, athletes were counted based on the state they were born in, not necessarily their hometown.

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Steve Selthoffer
1 year ago

Ummm…. It says Arizona with 14. Michael lives there. Add 23 gold medals to Arizona’s total. And have the intern who forgot Michael Phelps thrown to the crocodiles (again!). And revoke his Deck Pass! ;-). Swimswam forgot the GOAT?!!! Oh my!!! We’re praying… Shock and horror! Our heads are bowed…

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Selthoffer
Reply to  Steve Selthoffer
1 year ago

“Also, athletes were counted based on the state they were born in, not necessarily their hometown.”

1 year ago

Congrats, you made a population map

1 year ago

There are 49 states+DC ahead of Wyoming, yet they still rank as #40…

Reply to  DVDV
1 year ago

Yeah ’cause they forgot to skip a place after ties(3,3,4; 7,7,8; 10,10,11; 34,34,34,34,35; etc)

1 year ago

It’s kinda nuts to think how much lower Maryland would be on the list without the existence of MP or Ledecky

1 year ago

btw 491 is not more than double of 246

ur mom
Reply to  jeff
11 months ago

yes it is stupid, it’s 492

1 year ago

Texas is a big state for sports.

But football is king, so some potential Olympic athletes probably lost to football.

1 year ago

With Minnesota being as high as it is on the list, I gotta think we would do even better on a per-capita basis.

Alternate response to this article: Minnesota and Wisconsin can’t possibly be tied so this is all junk.

Reply to  Roch
1 year ago

Think of all those Wisconsin speed skaters like Bonnie Blair.

Reply to  Marklewis
1 year ago

Yeah, it’s not clear, unless I missed it, that Winter Olympics are included, but I assume most of Minnesota’s are from the Winter games. It would be interesting to see these numbers broken out by Winter & Summer.

1 year ago

I’d much rather see this per capita.

Wave 1.5 Qualifier
Reply to  Meow
1 year ago

It would probably need to have some time-varying component to the per capita as the population per state did not rise at the same rate… and well… at least 5 of these states weren’t even around in 1896.

Sounds like a job for the SwimSwam intern working on her PhD in stats.

Reply to  Wave 1.5 Qualifier
1 year ago

You could adjust for gold medals per X population, like 1 gold medal for 10,000 residents. Of course that would favor gold medals won in early Olympics when the population was much smaller, but I guess that’s kind of the point isn’t it?

About Annika Johnson

Annika Johnson

Annika came into the sport competitively at age eight, following in the footsteps of her twin sister and older brother. The sibling rivalry was further fueled when all three began focusing on distance freestyle, forcing the family to buy two lap counters. Annika is a three-time Futures finalist in the 200 …

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