Thanks to the sporting heroes who have contributed to one of the country's most successful years for sport, things aren't all doom and gloom in Germany. And they've got the paychecks to prove it.
Ralf's happy because Michael's paying
These are testing times for Germany. The economy is festering, the government seems at odds with itself and nobody seems to know what kind of tanks they can and cannot sell. It's a good thing that Germany's sporting heroes are top of the heap or things would be really desperate.
It's been one of the most successful years for sporting achievements in recent history for German sportsmen and women. And a list of the country's top earners in the world of sport shows that when it comes to trophies, prize money and endorsement revenue -- German stars hoard with the best of them.
Schumacher brothers and Nowitski are top earners
The man with the strongest sideboard and the biggest bank balance is Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher. Again, the world's motor racing circuits were a sea of Ferrari flags this season, accompanied by the seemingly omnipresent German national anthem as "Schumi" romped home in record breaking style with 11 Grand Prix victories this year. His fifth world championship win didn't do his credit rating any harm, pushing his earnings up to €50 million ($50.4 million).
Little brother Ralf also had a profitable time driving really fast this year. Schumi II takes the third spot, with a more than credible €14 million in his back pocket.
Dirk Nowitski, the German basketball star who plays his game in the United States, separates the speeding Schumacher brothers in the list, notching up €14.5 million. Nowitski, a talismanic player with the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA, also found time to lead Germany's basketball team to third in the world championships earlier this year.
Becker earns €12 million for not doing much
Becker in court not on court.
It seems just being German is enough in these boom times for the country's sport personalities. Boris Becker comes into the list in fourth place with earnings of €12 million, despite only making appearances in the kind of court that he is not normally associated with: the tax court.
The only woman in the top 15 names on the highest earning Germans list is another former tennis icon, Steffi Graf. She's in ninth place with €5.5 million this year. Presumably, being one half of Deutsche Telekom's celebrity advertising couple is preferable to slogging balls around on the exhibition circuit.
The assorted others include Bernhard Langer, enjoying his golf once more with €10 million; Boxer Sven Ottke (€8 million) and Germany's World Cup hero/villain Oliver Kahn (€7 million). His coach at Bayern Munich, Ottmar Hitzfeld, took home €5 million this year while national team chief Rudi Völler banked €4 million.