When an accountant in Anaheim, California left her office at the end of a day, she noticed a McDonald's bag littered on her property. Maria Carillo was about to throw it away, but its heavy weight left her curious. Although she expected it to contain a rock, she couldn't help but peak inside, and that's when she discovered an Olympic gold medal in pristine condition — surrounded by wadded up burger wrappers and other trash.
"My first thought was, 'This is so beautiful — is it for real?'" she said. But no, it had to be a fake, said her husband, who runs a barber shop, when she called him with the news.
But it wasn't a fake. According to The Washington Post:
She pulled it out and saw the words "Games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020," as well as the five Olympic rings and the Greek goddess Nike. …
"Noe [Carillo's husband] has a friend who works for the police department, and it turned out he was coming in for a haircut," Carrillo said. "As soon as [the officer] saw it, he told my husband it was real and that it had been stolen."
Police checked their files and told the couple that the gold medal belonged to Jordyn Poulter, the starting setter of the 2020 U.S. Women's Volleyball Team. On May 25, she had reported it stolen from her car while it was parked in her garage in Anaheim.
Poulter and her teammates won the medal in the Summer Olympics after they beat longtime rival Brazil, and took home Olympic gold for the first time in the team's history.
About two weeks after the break-in, Anaheim police arrested a suspect in the theft, but they were unable to recover Poulter's medal. The Orange County District Attorney's Office charged Jordan Fernandez, 31, with vehicle burglary and other offenses on June 7. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on July 8.