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The sad story of Mark Wells selling his 'Miracle on Ice' gold medal

Sep 20, 2010, 6:00 PM EDT

Although there are occasions such as Reggie Bush and O.J. Simpson losing trophies for off-the-field issues, you’ll rarely see an athlete give up the symbol of their greatest achievements easily. Usually, it’s the exclamation point at the end of a very sad story.

Life hasn’t been easy for Mark Wells since he helped the U.S. Olympic hockey team win the 1980 gold medal during the famous “Miracle on Ice” run. A degenerative illness left him bedridden for decades, forcing him to sell off that medal to help pay for his expenses. The Boston Herald has more on the sad story and the impending sale.

His medal – the only one from the Miracle team to ever hit the resale market – is expected to go for more than $100,000 according to Phil Castinetti of SportsWorld in Saugus who is handling the sale.

“I’m thinking it will bring in six figures – probably around $125,000,” Castinetti told the Track. “It’s the only one that’s ever surfaced, and there’s only 20 of them.”


After Wells sold the medal, it was purchased by a Connecticut collector who has turned it over to Castinetti to see what he can get for it.

BTW, this year marks the 30th anniversary of Team USA’s victory over the big bad Soviets and their subsequent win over Finland to grab the gold at Lake Placid. Hence, the sale.

That’s a sad, sad story as it’s pretty clear that Wells isn’t selling the gold medal to install a home theater system in his home or something (at least I assume it would be to pay off problematic medical bills and the like).

I’ve never completely understood the logic of collectors, especially if it’s in the area of a sweaty game-worn jersey or a baseball that just happened to leave Barry Bonds’ bat. That being said, I can understand the allure of a gold medal from the 80s Olympic run. For one thing, it’s remembered even by hockey-indifferent sports fans as one of the greatest American athletic moments ever. Beyond that, it’s a freaking gold medal. That’s much cooler than a random object coincidentally used by an athlete, at least in my opinion.

Anyway, it’s an unfortunate story, but hopefully whatever money Wells made will help him keep things together. The people he sold it to are likely to make even more cash.

(H/T to Puck Daddy.)

  1. NYRFTW - Sep 20, 2010 at 8:35 PM

    He should have just held an event and charge like $5 to be able to put it on. Shit I would give him 50, 100 dollars to be able to put it on just so he wouldn’t have to do something like that. If everyone gave him like 50 bucks he wouldn’t have to do something like that. I think the buyer should give it back to him and the seller should give him the money. Call me crazy, but that seems like the only thing that is right in my mind. How can you feel comfortable with someone elses medal when you know the circumstances? That’s pretty f’d up in my opinion. I wish I had the money to buy it so I could give it back to him. USA hockey should buy it and give it back, or do a charity event for him! I am a USA hockey member and I would have no problem giving extra money to the organization, so he can get it back. They should do a serious fundraiser for this man. Pay him back for the hard work he gave to the organization!

  2. Derek - Sep 20, 2010 at 10:34 PM

    did you read the article obrien? wells already sold the medal, he’s not selling it again for a home theatre

  3. nmitre - Sep 21, 2010 at 1:40 PM

    Yeah, that is sad, but I agree with NYRFTW. He should keep his gold medal. Why would I want a medal someone else earned, unless it’s family?

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