Each year, the MacArthur Foundation names 25 new MacArthur Fellows, otherwise known as the "Genius Prize." Each of these Fellows receives $500,000 over five years, no strings attached. There is no public nomination process - the whole thing is done in secret - and the winners have no idea they were even being considered until they get a phone call from the Foundation.
(side question: how do they know they are not being punk'd?!)
This year's winners include a writer, a farmer, a geneticist, a musician, a sculptress, and a stage lighting designer.
I LOVE reading about these folks! Meet the "Geniuses" here.