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No More Spit And Polish: Getting Rich With German Gum

Toma TasovacJune 15, 2006

Who says chewed-up bubble gum is a nuisance? It's worth hundreds if coming from the right mouth -- such as one belonging to a certain German goalkeeper.

It would be hard to blow such beautiful bubbles with second-hand gumImage: APTN

It is good that the World Cup this year is not taking place in Singapore -- a pristine Asian city-state, which banned chewing gum in 1992 in order to keep its streets from getting sticky. If the tournament were there, the goalkeeper of the German national team would have been arrested by now for possession and distribution of illegal substances.

His arrest would have seriously shaken the confidence of the German team, and that in itself could have taken the air out of Germany's nascent economic comeback, increased unemployment and plunged the nation of 82 million into serious depression.

Luckily, the fine gentlemen of FIFA must have taken into consideration this nightmare scenario when they decided to award the World Cup hosting privileges to Germany. They must have known -- wise and well-wishing as they are -- that Germany would use the World Cup as a national amphetamine pill.

And they were right. These days in Germany, soccer is taking over all aspects of reality. The time has come to bid farewell to glum faces and waning strength. Germany is ushering in a new epoch of Germans actually jumping with joy.

Sticky pleasures

Torwart Jens Lehmann gibt alles Porträt
Lehmann: "Must keep the gum inside!"Image: AP

Anyone who ever got a piece of gum stuck on their pants or -- God forbid! -- in their hair, knows that the original Sisyphean task of rolling a huge rock up a steep hill is merely a piece of cake in comparison to getting rid of the sticky gunk.

But if you are lucky enough to be on the right spot in the right time, which is to say within spitting distance of the right celebrity, picking up somebody else's chewing gum can turn from a yucky chore into a profitable affair.

The German offspring of the popular auction Web site eBay recently featured a very curious offer: the original chewing gum that the goalkeeper of the German national team spat out during his team's World Cup opener with Costa Rica.

"This is the original chewing gum of Jens Lehmann," read the item description, which was appropriately filed in the category of second-hand objects.

The seller, who claims to have had a VIP ticket to the match, seems to have picked up the piece of gum while checking out the field after the game was over.

"While strolling around, I discovered it, picked it up with a handkerchief, and then packed it up in a plastic bag at home," said the seller. "Now you have a chance to bid on this piece of gum. For all Germany fans -- a must."

Money well spent

Even though the seller could not provide a DNA sample that would prove that this was, indeed, an authentic piece of gunk that hung out for a while in Jens Lehmann's mouth, this lovely World Cup souvenir was sold on Wednesday to the highest bidder for 608 euros ($765).

It is yet to be seen whether the auction will actually go through, or whether the first-time buyer who calls himself braxelbraxel, will turn out to be bogus. But the chewing-gum bidding has already inspired a couple of other similarly ingenious offers: "Lehmann Not Chewing Gum But Saliva Spit Original" and "No Lehmann Chewing Gum But My Own."

Angela Merkel lachend und verfremdetes Panoramabild
Who said female chancellors can't be funny?Image: dpa

Knowing that the Germans -- even in their new Mediterranean reincarnation -- remain thrifty and economical people, always on the lookout for a good deal, it wouldn't be surprising if such offers would multiply. Competition is good for the consumer, we are told, in the same way in which consumer confidence is extremely important for the German economy.

And -- as this World Cup has shown -- miracles are possible. The German national team, for example, managed to score a goal against Poland when everybody though the game was actually over.

German Chancellor and World Cup match attendee Angela Merkel -- who was once accused of trying to put her entire nation to sleep -- proved to the world that she did not, after all, have her joie de vivre surgically removed from her body at one point.

Last but not least, a German goalkeeper's chewing habits are now helping one entire country move away from its "spit-and-polish" image to the infinitely cooler and more entertaining "spit-and-cash-in."