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Fourth-Place Medal

Why are Team USA medal winners wearing gray on the podium?

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There's only one thing wrong with this soon-to-be iconic picture of the Fab Five celebrating its team gold medal at the Olympics: Why in the name of Betsy Ross is Team USA accepting gold medals while wearing a gray Nike jacket and black pants?

Gray and black? What is this, the set of a Christopher Nolan film? We're not saying everything had to be vomiting red, white, and blue (like some medal stand outfits of the past) but it'd be nice to be able to visually identify our athletes without the aid of an NBC chyron.

[ Photos: Best and worst Olympic team uniforms ]

Nike picked the color because the company says it glows on the medal stand and lets the audience see just how bright America's athletes can shine. The jacket is "finished off with a hyper reflective shell that burns bright under the most subtle lights." You know what else glows? Red, white, and/or blue.

"The United States of America" is written on the back, boxing style. It looks cool. Problem is, cameras infrequently show shots of the back of Jordyn Wieber's head. At all other times, unless you're seeing the American flag patch on the left shoulder or are close enough to read the writing on the patch, you're out of luck. The jackets look great in general, just not for standing under a rising American flag.

Look at the difference between the vibrant uniforms of other countries and ours:

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Eh, after looking at the medal outfits belonging to Russia and Romania, gray isn't such a bad way to go.

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A PR pitch for the jacket read:

There's absolutely no way your USA pride will go unnoticed; in addition to a Team USA patch on the chest, an Ol' Glory patch on the left sleeve, and "The United States of America" cut out of the back with precision layers, this jacket is equipped with a hyper-reflective exterior.

Like we said above, we beg to differ on that first part.

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The 21st C. Windrunner V. jacket and it's highly reflective properties is selling for $450 at some retailers. There's the real reason Nike went with these jackets. It can sell them outside the Olympics. If I had $450 in disposal income, I'd get one. They'd look sweet walking down the street. On the medal stand, the gray thing is bothersome. (Wearing a hooded jacket indoors is sort of strange too.)

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There's a different design for some of the outdoor events. Kimberly Rhode, who won a gold medal in skeet shooting Sunday, and the U.S. men's archery team thankfully had medal jackets of a different color.


If there's one color that says "America," it's burnt orange. (University of Texas fans nod in agreement.) The whole ensemble looks fine, particularly the rolled-up Nike jeans.

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