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

by Annika Johnson 17

August 18th, 2021 National, News, Tokyo 2020

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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dc trident stan yup yup
3 months ago

NEW YORK IN THE TOP 3 LETS GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Scotty P
3 months ago

Figures Ohio has quite a few. Nothing to do there really but train for something and occasionally go toCedar Point.

Bossanova
Reply to  Scotty P
3 months ago

Why are so many astronauts from Ohio?

It’s the furthest you can possibly get from Ohio

Meow
3 months ago

I’d much rather see this per capita.

Wave 1.5 Qualifier
Reply to  Meow
3 months 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.

PVSFree
Reply to  Wave 1.5 Qualifier
3 months 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?

Roch
3 months 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.

Marklewis
Reply to  Roch
3 months ago

Think of all those Wisconsin speed skaters like Bonnie Blair.

Ferb
Reply to  Marklewis
3 months 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.

Marklewis
3 months ago

Texas is a big state for sports.

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

jeff
3 months ago

btw 491 is not more than double of 246

MickeyMouse
3 months ago

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

DVDV
3 months ago

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

Bud
Reply to  DVDV
3 months 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)