Society

Leggy legend

Chinese fans can’t forget the World Cup octopus

Paul: an octopus know-it-all

Post-World Cup, and Paul the Octopus has gone into retirement. And he goes out on a predictive high note: apparently, octopus life expectancy is four years at best, and Paul is getting on a bit. Which means no reprise performance at the European Championships in 2012.

In China at least, his popularity lives on unabated. Known as “Brother Octopus” to his Chinese admirers, Paul is also being exploited remorselessly. China Film Group is about to release a movie about him (The Murder of Paul the Octopus). Octopus paraphernalia is spreading its tentacles far-and-wide. Tours are being lined up to his aquarium home in Oberhausen, Germany, and Taobao, the local version of eBay, is selling Paul the Octopus themed items by the bucket-load. A search under his name produces over 2,000 results. Good luck with the royalties on those, Paul.

Paul came to prominence during the World Cup when he successfully predicted the outcome of matches, including Spain’s victory over Holland in the final. For a nation of gamblers (see last week’s issue), the mollusc’s flawless predictions have made him a household name.

His predictive capacity is also coming in for some local competition, with a football team from Shandong province saying it will sponsor a local king crab (called Overlord) as a predictor of games in the Chinese Super League. Apparently, Overlord shows promise by identifying jars holding the greatest number of toothpicks (it’s not clear how this will help him with the football results).

Another octopus, purchased by an investor called Huang from Fujian, has also been tasked with stock-picking, or more accurately with forecasting an “up”, “down” or “balanced” day on the markets, Modern Express reports. But the sea creature’s first call was to go for a balanced day, and stocks rose. Huang says the cooking pot beckons.

That is one outcome that Paul doesn’t need to concern himself with, although his Chinese peer group has no such luxury. The Beijing media reports that restaurants in the city have been selling much more grilled octopus than normal. The market price for fresh octopus is on the up too, although that does not necessarily mean octopus oblivion. Some were being bought as pets, a vendor told the China Daily. “They ask me how to raise them but I don’t think they can easily be taken care of like dogs and survive,” he explained to the newspaper.


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