BERLIN - Paul the oracle octopus
was given a replica of the World Cup on Monday as a reward for
his perfect eight-for-eight record in picking matches as bettors
worldwide collected their winnings based on his selections.
The two-year-old octopus with possible psychic powers turned
into a worldwide celebrity for accurately predicting the winner
of Germany's five World Cup wins as well as their two defeats.
Paul also tipped Spain to beat Netherlands in Sunday's final.
"We've had a lot of offers for Paul but he will definitely
be staying with us and returning to his old job - making
children smile," Sea Life spokeswoman Tanja Munzig in Oberhausen
told Reuters after presenting Paul with the World Cup replica.
"There's no rational reason why he always got it right."
Bettors around the world made small fortunes based on Paul's
uncanny picks, said Graham Sharpe, media relations director at
William Hill in London, one of Britain's largest bookmakers.
"I've seen a lot of things in my lifetime but this is the
first time I've ever seen people making their picks based on
what an octopus tells them," Sharpe told Reuters.
"We had people coming in saying they didn't know how to
place a bet but heard about this German octopus and wanted to
bet with him. It's ludicrous. But he kept getting it right,"
said Sharpe. "It's one of the finest tipping feats ever."
Sharpe said that anyone who had placed a 10-pound
accumulator bet on Paul's picks from the start of the World Cup
would have won 3,000 pounds by the end of the
Paul's home at Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen has been
inundated with visitors and media from across Europe. Many
networks broadcast his picks live. Hundreds were on hand to
watch the World Cup replica lowered into his tank on Monday.
"Paul now wants to say good-bye to the whole world," Daniel
Fey, a supervisor at Sea Life, told Reuters. "He really enjoyed
all the media attention but now he's returning to his old job."
Yet interest in the 50-cm long octopus remained intense,
especially after his last two picks on Friday were once again
accurate. Germany won Saturday's match for third place and
Spain won Sunday's final - as Paul had called it on Friday.
Last week Germans were shocked and distraught when he picked
Spain to beat Germany in the semi-final after tipping German
wins over Argentina, England, Ghana and Australia.
And after Spain beat Germany, many wanted to publicly grill
him. Sea Life installed extra security to protect their octopus.
"We have to remember he's quite old now - 2-1/2 years is
quite old for an octopus," Fey said.
Probability experts were quoted in media reports saying the
likelihood of getting eight consecutive picks right is 1/256.
Sharpe said the odds of getting eight straight right was over
1/300. Humbled professors were quoted saying Paul got lucky.
The octopus, considered by some to be the most intelligent
of all invertebrates, had a choice of picking food from two
different transparent containers lowered into his tank - each
with a national flag on it.
The container Paul opened first was regarded as his pick.
Sharpe at William Hill said he had at first been sceptical
about the oracle octopus. But he became a believer.
"I suspect that Paul's predictions could have made about a
half a million pounds," Sharpe said, adding he estimated William
Hill paid out 100,000 pounds on his picks at its 2,300 outlets.
"We had people coming in asking who Paul had picked before
they placed their bets," Sharpe said. "I'm sure there were a lot
more people too who were too embarrassed to tell you they made
their bet based on what the octopus said."
He said it was the first time in 30 years of work that he
had seen "such widely orchestrated use of a non-human tipster."
Sharpe said he, unfortunately, did not follow Paul's advice.
"It'd have been too embarrassing," he said. But Sharpe said he
was going on holiday soon.
"I'm going to the seaside and intend
to eat as much octopus as I can cram down as revenge," he said.
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