Paul the Octopus got all his predictions right during the 2010 World Cup. But can his feat be matched? Several animal oracles are doing their best to run the slate during this year's European Football Championship tournament. And so far, three of them have a perfect record. All hail the otters!
When Paul the Octopus ran the slate of football prophesy during the 2010 World Cup, fans around the globe were astonished. How, everyone wondered, was it possible that a simple cephalopod living in a tank in Oberhausen, Germany could see the football future? Paul managed eight correct predictions in a row -- surely an unprecedented feat?
Mathematicians, of course, were less impressed. After all, Paul's chances stood at a less than astronomical 256 to 1. Still, that more pedestrian interpretation of the World Cup wonder has not stopped an entire zoo of would-be imitators from trying their luck.
But with the European Football Championship tournament now entering into the do-or-die phase, how are they doing? Are we witnessing the rebirth of the late eight-legged prophet? Did Pulpo Paul come back to life as a Mangalitsa pig? An elephant? Or perhaps an otter?
The correct answer, of course, is all of the above. Of the 10 clairvoyant beasts we here at SPIEGEL ONLINE have been dutifully following for the benefit of football fans everywhere, fully four of them have correctly predicted the results of all three of Germany's group stage matches. All hail Emma the pig, Nelly the elephant and Ferret and Mörmel the otters. Xaver the bulldog? Not so much. Rumor has it that he gets plenty of help from his trainers.
Not to be outdone, of course, Sissi and Franz the tortoises have combined on a perfect record of imperfection, a feat matched by the much-hyped pre-tournament favorite Yvonne the cow. And, when you are unable to benefit from reading the sports pages, getting every prediction wrong is statistically just as difficult as getting every one correct.
Still, it is looking increasingly unlikely that the late Paul is going to have to move over anytime soon in the pantheon of sports prophets. The octopus, after all, became an instant star in Germany and his fame quickly travelled around Europe and the globe. He even became an honorary citizen of the Spanish town of Carballiño after he correctly picked Spain to defeat Holland in the final.
Ferret and Mörmel? The successful duo would seem to be in need of a new PR director. Headlines have been few and far between. Still, they are a hell of a lot cuter than Pulpo Paul.
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