#47: Congressional Gold Medal
Golf wasn’t an Olympic sport while Arnold Palmer was competing, but Palmer nonetheless brought home the gold in 2012 when he became only the sixth athlete to receive a Congressional Gold Medal.
“The highest honor that can be bestowed upon any living citizen” in the United States, the medal was first awarded to George Washington; a litany of luminaries has followed. Those include Neil Armstrong, Thomas Edison, Harry Truman, and numerous others who have had deep and lasting impacts that go far beyond their given professions. Among athletes, Palmer joined Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis, Roberto Clemente and fellow golfer Byron Nelson. Upon receiving the medal from Congress under the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C., Palmer spoke to golf’s values of honesty and hard work before joking that he was “particularly proud of anything the House and the Senate could agree upon.”