Top States, Hometowns for US Summer Olympic Athletes

Top States, Hometowns for US Summer Olympic Athletes
Graphic: Nathaniel Blum

BeenVerified Team
Updated July 16, 2021

As the eyes of the sporting world turn to the pandemic-delayed Summer Olympics in Tokyo, BeenVerified examined which US states and cities have bragging rights for producing the most summer Olympic athletes in the history of the Games.

In our analysis, BeenVerified also looked at the birthplaces of US summer Olympians dating back to 1896, when the first games were held in Athens, Greece, to determine which states and hometowns earned the most medals—either in individual events or as members of medalist teams—in the past 28 summer Games.

Key takeaways

Olympians and medals by state

  • California and New York produced the most summer Olympians. Top states that were the birthplace of future Olympians are California (1,237) and New York (794), followed by Pennsylvania (483), Illinois (445), New Jersey (311), Massachusetts (302), Texas (286), Ohio (275), Missouri (242) and Michigan (202).
  • California and New York also brought home the most medals. Top 10 birthplace states that saw their native sons and daughters on the medals podium were California (954), New York (436), Pennsylvania (267), Illinois (263), Ohio (231),Texas (203), New Jersey (166), Missouri (146), Massachusetts (134) and Michigan (130).
  • Florida and Washington punch above their weight for gold medals. Two new states—Florida and Washington—enter the historic top 10 for gold medal count. Gold totals: California (467), New York (214), Ohio (125), Illinois (116), Pennsylvania (108), Texas (104), New Jersey (84), Florida (67), Michigan (62) and Washington (60). Of the 50 states, North Dakota is the only state to not be the birthplace of a gold medalist.
  • By population, Hawaii is the top Summer Olympics state. Looking at historic population levels in the 125 years since the first summer Games, the top state producing an Olympian per 100,000 residents is Hawaii (10.7), followed by California (7.5), Massachusetts (6.2), New Jersey (5.66), Missouri (5.59), New York (5.5), Washington (5.4), Oregon (5.2), Illinois (4.9) and Montana (4.86).
Birthplace state Total medals Gold Silver Bronze
California 954 467 269 218
New York 436 214 135 87
Pennsylvania 267 108 77 82
Illinois 263 116 70 77
New Jersey 166 84 44 38
Massachusetts 134 52 38 44
Texas 203 104 56 43
Ohio 231 125 53 53
Missouri 146 49 43 54
Michigan 130 62 34 34
Washington 105 60 19 26
Florida 108 67 24 17
Indiana 77 41 20 16
Wisconsin 77 39 23 15
Minnesota 47 22 12 13
Georgia 84 52 18 14
Virginia 62 34 14 14
Oregon 54 25 17 12
Iowa 58 29 16 13
Maryland 86 51 16 19
Connecticut 46 24 11 11
Kansas 47 23 12 12
Louisiana 44 27 10 7
Oklahoma 47 24 10 13
Hawaii 57 22 23 12
Colorado 34 18 8 8
Mississippi 57 31 16 10
North Carolina 47 24 13 10
Arizona 42 13 17 12
Kentucky 44 23 10 11
Alabama 59 36 10 13
Nebraska 26 14 4 8
Tennessee 38 17 9 12
Utah 19 6 7 6
South Carolina 27 15 9 3
Arkansas 29 20 2 7
New Hampshire 6 5 0 1
Rhode Island 16 4 4 8
Montana 16 8 3 5
Maine 19 9 3 7
New Mexico 7 3 2 2
South Dakota 18 9 3 6
Nevada 12 5 1 6
West Virginia 24 14 5 5
Delaware 6 3 1 2
Idaho 10 5 3 2
Vermont 11 3 1 7
Alaska 4 2 0 2
North Dakota 2 0 2 0
Wyoming 4 1 2 1

Olympians and medals by city

  • New York and Chicago are the top birthplaces for Summer Olympians. These cities gave birth to the most future Olympians: New York (345), Chicago (216), Philadelphia (198), Los Angeles (186), St. Louis (150), San Francisco (99), Boston (95), Washington (87), Brooklyn (81) and Detroit (79).
  • New York and Los Angeles have produced the most medalists. Native sons and daughters bringing home the most gold, silver or bronze medals originally hailed from New York (162), Los Angeles (129), Chicago (121), Philadelphia (107), St. Louis (82), San Francisco (62), Washington (58), Baltimore (57), Cincinnati (56) and Detroit (53).
  • New York and Los Angeles tie for most gold medals. Olympians born in New York and Los Angeles have produced 69 gold medals each, followed by Chicago (52), Philadelphia (48), Baltimore (38), San Francisco (34), Washington (31), Cincinnati (29), St. Louis (25) and Brooklyn (24).
City Total medals Gold Silver Bronze
New York, NY 162 69 58 35
Los Angeles, CA 129 69 36 24
Chicago, IL 121 52 32 37
Philadelphia, PA 107 48 28 31
St. Louis, MO 82 25 20 37
San Francisco, CA 62 34 13 15
Washington, DC 58 31 14 13
Baltimore, MD 57 38 11 8
Cincinnati, OH 56 29 15 12
Detroit, MI 53 23 15 15
Honolulu, HI 48 18 18 12
Houston, TX 48 18 15 15
Brooklyn, NY 47 24 12 11
Boston, MA 46 15 18 13
San Diego, CA 46 20 13 13
Seattle, WA 42 24 6 12
Cleveland, OH 37 23 8 6
Portland, OR 36 20 10 6
Long Beach, CA 36 11 15 10
Oakland, CA 36 20 9 7
Atlanta, GA 32 17 9 6
Pittsburgh, PA 30 16 9 5
Newark, NJ 25 7 9 9
Sacramento, CA 24 9 6 9
Dallas, TX 21 13 4 4
Indianapolis, IN 21 11 5 5
Milwaukee, WI 20 10 9 1
Buffalo, NY 19 6 5 8
Tacoma, WA 18 12 3 3
Modesto, CA 18 13 2 3
Pasadena, CA 17 10 4 3
Columbus, OH 17 8 5 4
Madison, WI 17 11 2 4
Newport Beach, CA 17 8 5 4
Whittier, CA 17 6 8 3
Denver, CO 16 11 3 2
Evanston, IL 16 9 5 2
Tucson, AZ 16 5 7 4
Dayton, OH 16 8 3 5
Birmingham, AL 16 11 3 2
Berkeley, CA 15 6 2 7
Salt Lake City, UT 15 5 6 4
Akron, OH 15 7 5 3
Jacksonville, FL 15 11 4 0
Danvers, MA 15 9 3 3
Miami, FL 14 9 4 1
Anaheim, CA 14 4 7 3
Beverly Hills, CA 14 6 4 4
Canandaigua, NY 14 8 3 3
New Orleans, LA 13 8 1 4

Statistics by sports, gender

  • The top Olympic sport is track and field events. The most popular Olympic sport for US competitors—and the only one to be featured in every Summer Olympics—is athletics, or track and field events, such as pole vaulting and the 100-meter sprint. Since the first 1896 Games, 1,769 US athletes have competed in track and field. The second most popular sport historically for US Olympians is aquatic events (1,007) followed by rowing (631).
  • The average ratio of male to female Summer Olympians is more than 3-to-1. While women have been participating in the Summer Games since 1900, their numbers historically lag behind male competitors. On average, the US sent 3.3 men for every female competitor since the first Games.
  • Two states have produced more female Olympians. Alaska (six women and three men) and Idaho (nine women and seven men) are the only states to produce more women Olympians. Similarly, only three states saw female Olympians bring home more medals than men: Alaska (three medals from women versus one medal from men); Idaho (10 vs. zero); and Tennessee (23 vs. 15). Only one state, North Dakota, has never produced a female Olympian. At the city level, however, 444 US cities produced more women Olympians than male out of 2,218 birthplaces for Summer Olympics athletes.
  • Female Olympians earn 24% more medals than men. While fewer in number, US women Olympians historically have earned 0.75 medals per female athlete, compared to 0.59 medals per male athlete.
Birthplace state Summer Olympians Men Women
California 1,237 802 435
New York 794 621 173
Pennsylvania 483 362 122
Illinois 445 343 102
New Jersey 311 235 75
Massachusetts 302 239 63
Texas 286 199 87
Ohio 275 215 60
Missouri 242 207 35
Michigan 202 156 46
Washington 172 117 55
Florida 157 96 61
Indiana 127 88 39
Wisconsin 125 83 42
Minnesota 116 81 35
Georgia 106 71 35
Oregon 98 66 32
Virginia 98 68 30
Iowa 97 80 17
Maryland 94 66 28
Connecticut 93 71 22
Kansas 87 76 11
Louisiana 85 64 21
Oklahoma 82 71 11
Hawaii 81 54 27
Colorado 76 48 28
Mississippi 65 48 17
North Carolina 59 47 12
Arizona 57 35 22
Kentucky 56 47 9
Alabama 54 37 17
Nebraska 49 43 6
Tennessee 48 28 20
Utah 42 30 12
South Carolina 42 31 11
Arkansas 41 35 6
New Hampshire 34 21 13
Rhode Island 34 22 12
Montana 31 21 10
Maine 29 19 10
New Mexico 25 18 7
South Dakota 23 22 1
Nevada 21 14 7
West Virginia 21 17 4
Delaware 20 11 9
Idaho 16 7 9
Vermont 15 12 3
Alaska 9 3 6
North Dakota 9 9 0
Wyoming 7 5 2
City Summer Olympians Men Women
New York, NY 345 258 87
Chicago, IL 216 175 41
Philadelphia, PA 198 166 32
Los Angeles, CA 186 135 51
St. Louis, MO 150 135 15
San Francisco, CA 99 73 26
Boston, MA 95 75 20
Washington, DC 87 68 19
Brooklyn, NY 81 81 0
Detroit, MI 79 67 12
Seattle, WA 75 51 24
San Diego, CA 70 37 33
Honolulu, HI 65 40 25
Houston, TX 65 41 24
Cincinnati, OH 61 41 20
Baltimore, MD 51 39 12
Portland, ME 50 32 18
Long Beach, CA 48 29 19
Cleveland, OH 48 35 13
Minneapolis, MN 47 34 13
Newark, NJ 46 40 6
Buffalo, NY 40 34 6
Oakland, CA 39 31 8
Pittsburgh, PA 39 26 13
Atlanta, GA 33 27 6
Dallas, TX 33 22 11
Denver, CO 32 17 15
Indianapolis, IN 32 18 14
Milwaukee, WI 32 26 6
New Orleans, LA 31 26 5
Kansas City, MO 31 22 9
Berkeley, CA 28 17 11
Sacramento, CA 24 16 8
Santa Monica, CA 24 18 6
Pasadena, CA 23 14 9
Louisville, KY 23 17 6
Evanston, IL 22 17 5
Columbus, OH 22 15 7
Miami, FL 21 11 10
Salt Lake City, UT 20 13 7
Phoenix, AZ 18 10 8
Anaheim, CA 18 11 7
Toledo, OH 18 16 2
Providence, RI 18 13 5
Tacoma, WA 18 14 4
Tucson, AZ 17 9 8
Palo Alto, CA 17 9 8
Yonkers, NY 17 16 1
Bronx, NY 17 12 5
Tulsa, OK 17 15 2

Methodology

BeenVerified examined the birthplaces of all US-born Summer Olympics athletes who have competed since 1896. Totals for medalists include both individual winners and individuals participating on teams that won gold, silver or bronze medals in previous games.

Birthplace cities are based on geographical boundaries and incorporations at the time of the athlete’s birth; some cities and towns no longer exist.

For this study, we have limited our research to only athletes who were selected or participated in past games, not those participating in the Tokyo Summer Games.

For more information, contact Kerry Sherin, kerry@beenverifiedmedia.com, or Richard Gargan, richard@beenverifiedmedia.com.

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