Every U.S. Olympic athlete gets a ring, and some get sweet perks out of it

David Wise says there are sweet perks to be had showing his Olympic ring. (AP)

If you’re one of the record-setting 242 athletes representing the United States at the 2018 Winter Olympics, you don’t have to medal in PyeongChang, South Korea, to come away with hardware. And if you’re smart about it, you can even squeeze some amazing perks out of said hardware.

According to NBCOlympics.com’s Rachel Lutz, every member of Team USA, be it at the Olympics or Paralympics, is fitted for a customized commemorative sterling silver ring by O.C. Tanner. The Salt Lake City-based jeweler has been donating pieces of memorabilia to American athletes since the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia. The company even put together a video of the “lost wax method” it uses to make them.

Those lucky Olympians and Paralympians get to trick out their rings as they please, be it with diamonds, different types of gold (10-karat, 14-karat, platinum gold, etc.) and personalized engravings. This year’s edition features the Olympic logo, the five rings, the American flag, the athletes names, the phrases “Team USA 2018” and “PyeongChang” and a pictogram signifying each person’s specific sport.

As much as these rings might be able to fetch on eBay or (heaven forbid) at a pawn shop, their greatest value may be in the awe they can inspire — and the extra benefits they can extract, wittingly or otherwise, from admirers.

David Wise, who will be looking to defend his gold medal in the Men’s Halfpipe from the 2014 Sochi Games, has saved significant sums by wearing his ring around.

“Everyone who notices the ring is fascinated with it,” Wise told NBCOlympics.com. “I’ve had it get me free meals, drinks, first class flights and hotel upgrades. It even got me out of a parking ticket!”

If Wise has managed to score that many bonuses with his one previous ring, just imagine what kinds of fringe benefits Kelly Clark, a three-time medalist in the women’s halfpipe, has racked up (and might going forward) now that she’s added a fifth piece of Olympic jewelry to her collection.