maths EXPERT: Team USA Is Going To Win Fewer Gold Medals Than You Think At The Olympics

Ryan Lochte Michael Phelps

Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

A Colorado College economics professor says the US will take home 34 gold medals this year, several less than sportsbooks (~38) and media (~42) are expecting.The professor, Daniel Johnson, released his medal predictions based on a model that involves strictly non-athletic factors — things like per capita income, population, and various “cultural specific factors.”

Johnson says his model has 93% accuracy rate. Here’s how he did last Olympics, according to his press release (PDF):

During the last Summer Games, in Beijing in 2008, Johnson’s model forecast that the U.S. would top the medal count, and it did, winning 110 medals (seven more than predicted). He also correctly predicted that China would top the gold medal count, and it did, winning 51 gold medals (seven more than predicted). During the last Winter Games, in Vancouver in 2010, the model predicted 27 medals for Canada (they won 26 instead), but the American and German teams both vastly outperformed expectations and topped the podium more often.

The gambling blog Beyond The Bets broke down the data from a Vegas point of view, and found that you could make a pretty penny betting on the US to win UNDER 38.5 golds.

So on the one hand, there’s probably money to be made betting against the US. But on the other hand, U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Johnson still says the US will win the most golds, here’s his predicted top 5:

  1. USA: 34
  2. CHINA: 33
  3. RUSSIA: 25
  5. GERMANY: 19

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