On July 15, after a full month of heart-thumping competition, the members of a single national team will emerge as champions and experience one of the ultimate thrills in professional sports — raising aloft the 18-karat gold FIFA World Cup Trophy. Four years ago in Brazil, that honor went to the soccer team from Germany. This year in Russia, 31 teams will be vying to unseat the defending champs.
The coveted trophy, which is 14.5 inches tall and depicts two human figures holding up the earth, is made of 11 pounds of 18-karat gold and features two rows of green malachite at the base. USA Today reported that the trophy is estimated to be worth $20 million, although the actual precious metal value is closer to $168,000.
For years, FIFA, the governing body of soccer, had said the trophy was made of solid gold, but that claim hasn’t held up to scrutiny and it’s very likely that it has a hollow center.
Martyn Poliakoff of the United Kingdom’s Nottingham University did the math and determined that, based on its dimensions, a FIFA trophy made of solid gold would weigh an unwieldy 154 pounds. Gold is nearly 20 times as dense as water, and to get some perspective on just how heavy that is, consider this… A standard gold bar measures just 7 x 3 5/8 x 1 3/4 inches, but weighs more than 27 pounds.
The winning team will be taking home a gold-plated replica of the actual trophy. The real one will remain in the possession of FIFA. The bottom of the base bears the engraved year and name of each FIFA World Cup winner since 1974. The names are not visible when the cup is standing upright.