Paul the Octopus of World Cup Fame Has Died

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Paul the Octopus, the eight-armed oracle that correctly predicted the outcome of eight World Cup matches this year, has died. Devastated staff at his aquarium in Germany say they will build a memorial to him, and they have a comforting message for a world in mourning -- Paul II is waiting in the wings.

Paul the Octopus, who gained worldwide fame this year by correctly forecasting the outcome of eight World Cup soccer matches including the final, has died peacefully of natural causes, the Sea Life Aquarium in Oberhausen said on Tuesday.

"Management and staff of the Oberhausen Sea Life Aquarium were devastated when Paul was found dead this morning," the aquarium said in a statement.

It said it would erect a memorial to the little brown octopus whose astounding predictive powers turned him into the true star of the tournament, eclipsing the likes of Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, Thomas Müller and Andres Iniesta. Spain, which won the tournament, embraced "Pulpo Paul" as a hero.

During the World Cup in South Africa in June and July, TV channels around the world provided live coverage of Paul's forecasts, made by picking a tasty mussel from one of two transparent boxes emblazoned with the national flags of the two opposing teams.

There was a one in 256 chance that he would get all eight predictions right. Paul's success rate confounded mathematicians, angered bookmakers and spooked hundreds of millions of football fans around the world.

"Paul delighted people from all continents with his seven consecutive correct predictions for the matches of the German national team and for the final," said the aquarium's general manager, Stefan Porwoll. "He was dear to all our hearts and we will sorely miss him. He died peacefully in the night of natural causes. It is a comforting thought that he had a good life with us with the best possible care delivered by a committed team."

Some Germans, disappointed by Paul's unfavorable predictions towards their own national team, had joked that they wanted to fry him up as calamari. Sea Life officials on Tuesday that Paul's remains are currently being stored in a freezer and that he would be cremated in the coming days.

"In honor of Paul and in view of the worldwide interest, a memorial will be put up to him in our exhibition," said the aquarium, which is clearly adept at milking his fame. "We will show his most beautiful and moving moments on a screen. And we will also display the presents we received from all over the world, along with the two glass boxes. We will also show Paul's urn."

The fame of the creature variously dubbed "Psychic Paul," "El Pulpo Paul" and "Paul le Poulpe" grew with every correct forecast. When Spain won the final, ecstatic fans in Madrid were seen waving octopus banners. The small town of Carballino in northern Spain offered a €30,000 "transfer fee" because it wants to make Paul a mascot of its food festival, a disturbing notion.

In the nations whose teams were knocked out of the tournament early on, Paul's predictions added a little much-needed tension to matches they no longer had a stake in. "He was right again!" was a common post-match exclamation in bars and newspaper headlines around the world. Paul even provided England fans with some desperately needed pride because he is believed to have been born in the southern English town of Weymouth in early 2008, before he moved to Oberhausen.

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