JOHANNESBURG – Paul, the so-called “Oracle Octopus” of a German aquarium, became an international sensation during the World Cup for consistently predicting the results of Germany’s games.
Now it might become dinner.
“Nothing beats grilled octopus,” German fan Dolores Lusch told Reuters. “Cut him up in thin slices and grill him on all sides with a dash of lemon juice, olive oil and garlic on it. Delicious!”
Paul’s problem? He accurately picked Spain to beat Germany prior to Wednesday’s World Cup semifinal, which has led some fans to believe (humorously) that he jinxed their beloved team. They’ve responded with death/dinner threats.
Prior to Germany games, aquarium workers lower two containers holding food into his tank. Each contains a flag of the nations in an upcoming game. The food he chooses is deemed his selection. In this case, Paul ate from Spain’s container.
The choice rattled German players, who acknowledged their surprise that he went with their opponent after choosing Germany in four World Cup victories. Paul also accurately predicted Germany’s loss to Serbia in group play.
His ability to accurately pick the winners drew throngs of media after the gimmick caught on during the 2008 European Championships. Some television stations carried his choice live. PETA demanded he be set free. Fans claimed he was Germany’s good luck charm.
At least until Paul’s predicted result came in, Spain 1-0. Then fan anger on the Internet intensified. Twitter, Facebook and even old-school media were overrun with opinions suggesting Paul meet his demise for making such an un-patriotic choice.
“Throw him in the frying pan,” the Berliner Kurier newspaper wrote in an editorial.
The death threats have done nothing to frighten Paul, claimed his caretaker, Oliver Walenciak.
“There are always people who want to eat our octopus but he is not shy and we are here to protect him as well,” Walenciak said. “He will survive.”
Walenciak even said Paul would offer a prediction for Germany’s third-place game against Uruguay on Saturday. If the octopus knows what’s good for him, he’ll pick the Deutschland.
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