Paul the Octopus, World Cup Oracle, Dies in German Aquarium

Paul the Octopus
Paul the Octopus. Paul, who had nine brains and three hearts, picked the winning World Cup team by choosing between two mussels in separate containers marked with the relevant flag. Source: Sealife Oberhausen via Bloomberg

Paul the Octopus, who accurately predicted the result of every German soccer match as well as the final in this year’s World Cup in South Africa, has died.

The mollusk-turned-sage passed away naturally in his aquarium in the western German city of Oberhausen overnight, Sealife said today in a statement on its website. Aquarium workers were “devastated” when they found him this morning.

Paul, who was 2 1/2 years old, became a media sensation in Germany and around the world this summer with his talent for World Cup predictions. He tipped winners by choosing between two mussel-filled containers adorned with the flags of each team.

German fans were not amused when he chose Spain over Germany in the semi-finals in July, leading to threats that featured octopus menu ideas. Still, the oracle continued to receive wide attention after the World Cup.

“Paul inspired people of all continents,” the aquarium’s general manager, Stefan Porwoll, said in the statement. “He won all our hearts, and we will sorely miss him.”

Paul’s tank was adorned with the flags of World Cup countries and a replica trophy recalls his successes. Spanish visitors grateful for his foresight flocked to the aquarium. A book deal, a movie contract and endorsements followed.

The octopus even stoked international tension when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the West of attempting to “manipulate people’s minds through superstition, an octopus, fortune-telling and such things.”

Paul’s remains will be cremated.

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