He's gone. After correctly predicting the outcome of eight World Cup matches, Paul the Octopus died in his tank in a German aquarium today, leaving behind an unblemished sports prognosticating legacy and -- no, really! -- his own agent.
Where does Paul rank among history's greatest seers? Page 2 presents our unscientific rankings:
1. Paul the Octopus
Resume: 8-for-8 in 2010 World Cup.
Key insight: Sports gambling is an exact science best left to the experts.
Resume: Depending on your interpretation, foresaw Napoleon, Hitler, 9/11, the Challenger disaster, the brief rise of Dan Cortese and the Kardashian dynasty.
Key insight: The vaguer the prediction, the better it sounds in retrospect.
3. Joe Namath
Resume: Guaranteed Super Bowl III victory.
Key insight: The keenest prophecies are self-fulfilling.
26. Jonathan Niednagel
Resume: "Brain Type" expert predicted Ryan Leaf would be an NFL bust.
Key insight: The NFL draft is a crapshoot.
33. Sports Illustrated
Resume: In 1974, the magazine predicted that "we may not see men fighting to the death, but we could have animals killing each other -- cockfights, pit bulldogs, maybe even piranhas eating each other to death on television."
Key insight: Has a truer -- if figurative -- description of Reality TV ever been written?
274. Matt Hasselbeck
Resume: Wanted the ball, was going to score.
Key insight: It is bragging if you can't back it up.
701. The New York Times
Resume: In 1939, said the problem with television is that the average American wouldn't have time to watch it.
Key insight: "Television" and "Cop Rock" are not the same thing.
993. Jonathan Niednagel
Resume: Predicted Kobe Bryant "would never be able to consistently come through under pressure" like Michael Jordan.
Key insight: Like "brain typing," predicting is a crapshoot.