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FEATURE Golden shoes, mascots and donkeys - what's an Olympic gold worth? By dpa correspondents

Europe
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If you‘re German, an Olympic gold nets you 20,000 euros. But what do other countries give their athletes for topping the podium? And how have prizes changed over the years? A journey into the strange.

Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - The athletes competing in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will all tell you they‘re there for the glory, for the Olympic ideal - and we don‘t doubt that for a second.

But many countries‘ Olympic associations offer their athletes a sizeable financial reward for topping the podium. A German athlete, for example, can expect to trouser a cool 20,000 euros (about 22,000 dollars) for being faster, higher and stronger than their peers.

However, other nations have decided that money is too unimaginative a reward for their athletes‘ efforts - and come up with some very creative prizes instead.

GOLDEN SHOES: Iran gets medieval on its gold-medal-winning athletes, who each receive 300 shiny gold coins. Each coin is worth around 300 euros, so they‘re advised not to stick one in the trolley at Lidl only to forget about it later.

And the gold rush doesn‘t stop there: The athlete also receives a 1-kilogram golden shoe worth between 25,000 and 30,000 euros and a brand-new Chinese 4x4 worth around the same.

This they can park on a new plot of land in their home town, given them so that they can build their own house, possibly also out of gold.

MASCOTS: Sweden‘s prizes are altogether more humble than Iran‘s. Depending on where they end up on the podium, Swedish athletes will receive a replica of the official Rio mascot, the half-ape, half-wildcat Vinicius.

Gold medallists will receive a large version of Vinicius, silver medallists a medium version, and bronze medallists a small version. Sweden, you shouldn‘t have bothered. No, you really shouldn‘t have bothered.

PENSIONS: In South Korea, being faster, higher and stronger can be the best way to set you up for being slower, smaller and weaker, as an Olympic medal bags you a lifelong pension from the government.

The amounts for Rio have not been disclosed, but gold medallists at the London Olympics in 2012 secured around 800 euros a month, while silver and bronze medallists received around 600 and 400 euros respectively.

As an added bonus, South Korean gold medallists are exempted from national service.

STAMPS: British champions at the 2012 Games in London were rewarded royally - by having their likeness printed onto stamps, a privilege usually reserved for the Queen.

The country‘s 2016 gold medallists will be accorded no such honour, however. "We only did it then because the Games were in London," a Post Office curmudgeon explained.

A DONKEY: After Greece‘s Spyridon Louis won the marathon at the first Games of the modern era in 1896, he requested an unusual prize: a donkey. And a cart.

While his request may seem strange in the professional age, it made perfect sense for Louis, who held down not one but two jobs, as a shepherd and a water carrier in Athens.

COLD, HARD CASH: The most common - and certainly not least beloved - reward is, of course, money.

As we‘ve seen, Germany‘s gold medallists take home 20,000 euros, while the United States pays a surprisingly low 25,000 dollars to its champions - although having won 46 golds at the 2012 Olympics, it‘s understandable that it might want to spread its money around.

Great Britain‘s athletes receive no financial reward at all for a gold medal, while the highest sum on offer, according to French newspaper Le Figaro, is that offered by Azerbaijan, whose athletes can expect to pocket an eye-popping 450,000 euros for taking gold.

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