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Is an Oscar heavier than a newborn baby? And other fun facts about the Oscar statuettes

 Laura Dern and Renee Zellweger holding Oscars.
Laura Dern and Renee Zellweger holding Oscars.

"This is heavier than I expected," or something to that effect, is a common refrain from first-time winners of the Oscar when they get their hands on the iconic award. Now we're not trying to weight shame the Oscar statuette, which is being handed out for the 96th time at the 2024 Oscars on Sunday, March 10, but it is a question many of us wonder about — just how much does an Oscar weigh?

That's just one of the many popular questions movie fans have for the trophy that is seen as one of the highest honors in the industry. So we thought we would take the time to answer some of these questions about the award that has been handed out for nearly a century, including how it got its name and if it is really made out of gold.

With this info, you can impress your friends when you watch the Oscars.

How much does an Oscar weigh?

Ke Huy Quan accepting an Oscar
Ke Huy Quan accepting an Oscar

According to the official Oscars website, the Oscar statuette weighs 8.5 pounds and is 13.5 inches tall.

If you're curious for some comparison, the World Health Organization reported in 2023 that the average weight of a newborn baby is just a little over 7 pounds. So, yes an Oscar is heavier than a newborn baby! Well, unless you have an enormous baby that is!!

Is an Oscar made out of gold?

The Oscars trophy from a handout photo provided by A.M.P.A.S. at the Dolby Theatre in Feb. 2020.
The Oscars trophy from a handout photo provided by A.M.P.A.S. at the Dolby Theatre in Feb. 2020.

Like many of the movies that it honors, the look of an Oscar is a bit of movie magic as it is not actually made of gold, at least not entirely. Instead, the statuettes are solid bronze and then plated in 24-karat gold, again per the Oscars website.

However, for a three-year period during World War Two, the process changed. A metal shortage saw the Oscars be made out of painted plaster. Once the war was over, the Academy allowed those who had won the plaster trophies to exchange them for gold-plated metal versions.

Who makes the Oscar statuette?

Oscars Regina King
Oscars Regina King

Since 2015, the Academy has enlisted UAP Polich Tallix to make the Oscar statuette. As the New York-based company shares on its website, it combined the original design of the trophy from 1928 with what was handed out in 2015 to create the current design for the Oscar statuette, which of course consists of the iconic man holding a sword and standing on a film reel that features five spokes representing the five original branches of the Academy: actors, director, producers, technicians and writers.

UAP says that it takes about three months to make 50 statuettes. However, with the official results not being known until the envelopes are opened, the Academy always makes sure it has more than enough Oscars for all potential winners, including in the event of a tie.

But if you want to go back even further, the original designer of the Oscar statuette in the 1920s was Cedric Gibbons, the chief art director at MGM, while Los Angeles sculptor George Stanley was tasked with making the first batch of statuettes.

Why is it called an Oscar?

Oscars 95 logo
Oscars 95 logo

While we don't typically think twice about the trophy being called an Oscar, that is actually just the nickname for the award. The official name is the Academy Award of Merit. So why did we start calling the award an Oscar?

Per the Oscar website, there isn't a definitive answer to that question, but the popular legend is that when Academy librarian Margaret Herrick saw the statuette for the first time she said it reminded her of her Uncle Oscar. By 1934 the nickname had been heard enough that a columnist described it as such when Katharine Hepburn won her first Academy Award. The Academy officially adopted the Oscar nickname in 1939.

How many Oscars have been handed out?

Oscar statuettes
Oscar statuettes

Over the first 95 years of the Oscars, the Academy has handed out 3,140 Oscar statuettes. If we average that out to how many people earn Oscar trophies every year, it would be about 33.

At this year's Oscars, the likes of Oppenheimer, Barbie, Poor Things, Killers of the Flower Moon, The Holdovers and more are vying for Oscars in 23 categories, so at least that many (almost certainly more) will be added to the total.

Can you sell an Oscar?

Bong Joon-ho with his multiple Oscars
Bong Joon-ho with his multiple Oscars

Once someone wins an Oscar, they can display it or take it where they so choose (including to In and Out), but one thing they cannot do is sell it; at least not without offering it to the Academy first.

Per the official regulations of the Academy: "Award winners shall not sell or otherwise dispose of the Oscar statuette, nor permit it to be sold or disposed of by operation of law, without first offering to sell it to the Academy for the sum of $1.00." This also applies to the children/family members of Oscar winners who inherit the award or anyone else that may come into possession of it by gift or bequest.

This rule was the result of a 2015 court ruling, so it is still a relatively new thing. That is why you may have heard stories about Steven Spielberg buying an Oscar Bette Davis won or others like it.

If we're going by the letter of the rule, should the Academy opt not to buy back an Oscar offered to them through this process, then an individual could theoretically sell an Oscar. But considering it only costs the Academy a $1 and they went to court to solidify that right, it's incredibly unlikely you'll be seeing an Oscar available to buy online anytime soon.