Saturday, July 10, 2010

Let’s cross over now live to Paul ...


PHOTO: Paul is firmly in the Spain camp. AFP


BERLIN - Eyes around the world were on Germany’s octopus oracle Paul on Friday as he made his biggest prediction yet in the World Cup: Spain will beat Holland in the final on Sunday (Monday morning, Singapore time).

Paul’s perfect record of prescient picks in the World Cup have propelled him to international fame from obscurity a month ago in an aquarium in the western city of Oberhausen.

TV stations in Germany, Great Britain, Taiwan and elsewhere broadcast live pictures, complete with breathless commentary, of his final decision for the tournament.

Millions watched as the world-famous octopus descended upon on a tank marked with a Spanish flag, sitting for only a few minutes before grabbing a mussel and devouring it, while completely ignoring the Dutch tank, indicating a Spanish victory.

Earlier on Friday, he predicted that Germany will beat Uruguay in the third place playoff on Saturday (Sunday morning, Singapore time).

It was the first time he’d been tasked to pick a game in which Germany wasn’t involved, as the Oberhausen Sea Life aquarium bowed to overwhelming demand to see who he would choose in the final.

The two-and-a-half-year-old Paul correctly predicted Germany’s wins over Argentina, England, Australia and Ghana and the country’s losses to Serbia in the group stage and Spain in the semi-final.

Paul’s handlers say he is coping with fame well. Said Sea Life aquarium manager Stefan Porwoll: “Paul is such a professional oracle, he doesn’t even care that hundreds of journalists are watching and commenting on every move he makes.

We’re so proud of him.” Paul first started calling matches during the 2008 European Championship in which he got five out of six games involving Germany correctly, but international stardom only arrived with his World Cup prognostications.

Spain’s defeat of Germany in the semifinals, as predicted by Paul, prompted many Germans to wonder about how he would taste grilled for dinner.

Porwoll said the aquarium actually stepped up security but added that Paul gets a lot more fan mail that hate mail.

We’ve been getting tonnes of requests from around the globe,” said Porwoll. “People want to ask Paul about their marriage prospects, the gender of their future baby or the outcome of upcoming elections.

German TV stations have offered the eight-legged psychic lucrative contracts for his post-World Cup life, said Porwoll.
Paul has even made waves in the business world. Gary Jenkins, an economist with London’s Evolution Securities, hedged his market analysis note on Friday, conceding “unless Paul says differently”. “We did try and hire Paul the Octopus but we understand he is Goldman’s bound,” said Jenkins, referring to the bank Goldman Sachs.

While Paul is no doubt the world’s most famous animal oracle these days, he is facing competition. Pauline, a female octopus in Dutch captivity, has predicted victory for Holland in the final, her aquarium said on Friday.

She chose the Netherlands,” said Maaike Schroeder, spokeswoman for the Sea Life aquarium in Scheveningen.

It was, however, only four-year-old Pauline’s first attempt at divination, using a similar method to that employed for Paul.

In Singapore, a World Cup-forecasting parakeet Mani also picked the Oranje, creeping out of his cage to choose between two white cards, one hiding a Dutch flag, the other Spanish.
By Agencies