A 6-year-old girl found an Olympic gold medal in a pile of trash on the side of the road while out for a walk with her father in Atlanta.
The medal was stolen from former slalom canoeist Joe Jacobi, who won the medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, when someone broke into his car last month in Atlanta.
Chloe Smith spotted the gold medal in shrubs and trash on June 17, her mother, Charlmonique Cunningham, told ABC News today.
Cunningham described her daughter as “a very inquisitive, very spunky 6-year-old” who always picks up shiny things she comes across.
“She’s always picking up stuff, always finding things,” Cunningham said. “Both her and her dad always want to bring stuff home.”
Cunningham said she initially thought the medal was “junk.”
“Her dad instantly knew what it was. He had watched the news,” she said. “He was aware that the medal had been stolen.”
Cunningham said she remained skeptical but researched the medal and reached out to Jacobi via email with pictures of the recovered medal.
After confirming that the medal was his, Jacobi was “just astonished. He was speechless,” she said.
Cunningham said it took a little prying for the youngster to return her precious find, but when Chloe spoke to the Olympian on the phone, she graciously decided to give it back.
Jacobi rewarded her with $500 and promised to visit her class in the fall.
He said he is incredibly thankful to Chloe and her family for finding and returning the medal.
“I’ve met the parents, and they’re wonderful. They’re great people,” Jacobi told ABC News. “When you talk about character and doing the right thing, that girl has so many of the values of the Olympic Games. I think that Chloe represents and embodies all the Olympic values. In my eyes, she is an Olympian in every sense of the word.”