It took a miracle for Jim Craig to win a gold medal in hockey at the 1980 Olympics, but, after 36 years, he’s willing to let it go.
The former goaltender has put the medal up for sale at an ongoing public auction along with the jerseys, mask, skates and stick he used during victories over the Soviet Union in the semifinals and Finland in the gold medal match at the Lake Placid Winter Games.
Craig, who now works as a motivational speaker in St. Petersburg, Fla., said Tuesday his decision to part with 17 relics from the games, including an American flag that was draped over his shoulders following the victory over the Soviets, “has nothing to do with money.”
The 59-year-old said he decided to sell the collection, valued at more than $5 million, because he “didn’t know what to do with it” after it spent years on display in museums.
“I think I’m providing an opportunity for people to cherish it and enjoy it where it would’ve went into hibernation,” Craig said next to a display in a Manhattan conference room that included his scuffed skates and yellowed goalie mask. “Hopefully, someone gets that flag and it’s flown in the White House, or something, where it deserves to be.”
Craig said it will be most difficult to part with the medal, which is expected to fetch between $1 million and $1.5 million through the Bohemia-based online auction house Lelands.com, because to him it represents the success he achieved through the sacrifices of his parents and coaches.
He said he didn’t want to choose which of his two kids would get the prized medal and wanted to set up trust funds for them. He also wants to donate more to charities and is helping support the family of his nephew, who died at age 41 from cancer and left behind four children.
Craig is not the only member of the Miracle on Ice team to part with his Olympic gear.
Forwards Mark Pavelich and Mark Wells auctioned off their gold medals, while captain and left wing Mike Eruzione and defenseman Ken Morrow sold their game jerseys.
Lelands.com chairman Josh Evans said Craig’s collection, which is on auction through June 17, is exciting “because it represents not just sports but Americana.”
Years after the intense hockey rivalry, Craig said he remains friends with a couple of the Red Army players he defeated in 1980, including Vladimir Lutchenko, who helped coach Craig’s kids in hockey in Massachusetts. “The legacy is that we won in so many different ways, not just a hockey game,” Craig said. “Every day, every year, I learn more about how important it was.”