In Olympic Games, money talks: Economist says big spending will pay off

When it comes to the Winter Olympics games, some place their bets on notorious athletes, maybe that up-and-coming skier, or maybe a nation's athletic stats play in it. But if you ask Colorado College Economic professor Daniel Johnson, it's all about the money, baby.

Johnson, whose Colorado Springs office sits a few miles away from the U.S. Olympic Committee office, has predicted the big medal winners for the last five Olympic games with 94 percent accuracy. If we're talking strictly gold medals, that's 87 percent. Those are some impressive stats considering Johnson's model completely throws out traditional sports prediction factors -- like, say, an athlete's skill -- and relies entirely on economic factors like per capita income, geography, and political structure.

But this year, he calculates, home field advantage will place one nation atop the podium more than any other. For the first time ever, if Johnson is batting his average, Canada will take the cake in terms of most medals, just in front of the U.S. and Norway.

That's good news for Johnson, the Canadian-born economist who, according to his Web site, is headed for Vancouver "partly to cheer and partly to see how his model fares this time around."

But before you break out the maple syrup and Nickelback CDs (for the love of God, don't!), consider this: "Russia is predicted to win the race for gold medals, edging out Germany but winning a trio more than Canada or the U.S.," according to a press release.

Before you call "Bolshevik!" on that little zinger, Johnson predicts a not-too-shabby result for the U.S.: Twenty-six Medals, five of them gold. We'll take it, eh.

Check out the full predictions:

Johnson's 2010 Winter Olympics Predictions

Nation Total Medals Gold Medals
Canada 27 5
United States 26 5
Norway 26 4
Austria 25 4
Sweden 24 4
Russia 23 8
Germany 20 7
Italy 19 3
Finland 14 4
Switzerland 13 4
China 12 2
South Korea 11 4
Netherlands 10 3

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