The Nobel Peace Prize, undoubtedly the most famous and respected prize of its kind, will be announced on Friday morning in Oslo. You can expect the results around 11 a.m. local time, which will be 6 a.m. for those on the East Coast of the United States.

So, who will win? Right now, perhaps only a small group of Norwegians knows for sure, and according to the Nobel Institute there have been at least 273 candidates this year. In the past, recipients have been hard to predict, but that won't stop the speculation – or the betting.

As in previous years, bookmakers are offering odds for the favorites. Here's a selection of the most common names found among listed as likely winners, along with their odds at three prominent betting Web sites (Paddy Power, William Hill, and Ladbrokes) on Wednesday afternoon.

Angela Merkel

At the time of writing, the German chancellor is the favorite on all three Web sites that WorldViews surveyed. She does seem to be a likely choice for the prize, given Germany's open attitude to refugees in the face of a Europe-wide crisis. However, with signs that Germany's receptiveness to refugees may be straining – not to mention that whole issue with Greece earlier in the year – Merkel may not be as easy a choice as you might think.

Kristian Berg Harpviken, director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), a Norwegian peace studies organization that monitors the Nobel committee, has also listed Merkel as his favorite – though he notes that Merkel was in fact nominated by a groups of German politicians for her role in the Ukraine conflict, not the refugee crisis.

Paddy Power: 2/1 

William Hill: 2/1 

Ladbrokes: 2/1 

Mussie Zerai

Another strong contender also found attention for his actions during the refugee crisis. Mussie Zerai, a Catholic priest originally from Eritrea, is the founder of the humanitarian organization Habeshia. Zerai and his organization work with refugees when they arrive in Europe. But he also helps those stricken on boats crossing the Mediterranean and at risk of drowning, finding their GPS coordinates and passing them on to the Italian coast guard.

Paddy Power: 6/1

William Hill: 5/1

Ladbrokes: 6/1

Pope Francis

Staying on the Catholic theme, it seems possible that the extremely popular Pope Francis could be a pick that much of the world would support – he was actually the favorite among many bookmakers last year, and things have only gotten better in the past 12 months. The Argentine-born Jorge Mario Bergoglio has managed to appeal to not only his expected Catholic base, but also liberals all around the world with messages that voiced concern about inequality and climate change, and offered acceptance to atheists and homosexuals.

If Francis did win the award, he would be the first papal Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and it's unclear if a spiritual leader known for his humility would be comfortable winning the accolade. However, popes have apparently been considered for the prize before – a recently released autobiography from the former director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute suggests that Pope John Paul II had his award blocked by Lutheran Bishop Gunnar Staalsett and other panel members.

Paddy Power: 8/1

William Hill: 5/1

Ladbrokes: 6/1

Denis Mukwege

Denis Mukwege is a gynecologist who has personally treated tens of thousands of rape victims in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at Panzi Hospital, which he founded in 1998. He has risked his life for his work: After criticizing the government's use of rape as a weapon of war in 2012, gunmen attempted to murder him in his own home.

Mukwege has long been considered deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize – he was a favorite among bookmakers last year, and Harpviken of the PRIO considers hims a favorite in 2015, along with Jeanne Nacatche Banyere and Jeannette Kahindo Bindu, two others who work with Congo's sexual violence survivors through a church network. However, he lacks the celebrity appeal some other candidates have.

“To treat women for the first time, second time, and now I’m treating the children born after rape,” Mukwege said in an interview with the New York Times in 2013. “This is not acceptable.”

Paddy Power: 7/1

William Hill: 6/1

Ladbrokes: 5/1

Novaya Gazeta

Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper, is one of the most respected independent outlets still operating in Russia. In particular, its coverage of the war in Ukraine earned the newspaper plaudits over the past year. The publication exists under constant government pressure, and its journalists risk their lives for their work: Journalist Anna Politkovskaya, critical of the Russian war in Chechnya, was assassinated in 2006.

The newspaper was thought to be one of the favorites for the Nobel Peace Prize last year. If the newspaper does win, it would be fitting: The publication was first started with Nobel Peace Prize money that Mikhail Gorbachev won in 1990.

Paddy Power: 7/1

William Hill: 13/2

Ladbrokes: 6/1

Japanese people who conserve Article 9

Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, established after World War II, prohibits Japan from maintaining the potential to wage war. It reads:

“Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes,”

It's been the subject of fierce debate in the country in recent years, with many – including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – calling for it to be significantly rethought. However, there is also a strong movement that calls on Japan to keep Article 9 as it is. Harpviken of the PRIO sparked speculation last year that those who seek to conserve Article 9 might well win the Nobel Peace Prize, though it may again be overshadowed by other issues this year.

Paddy Power: 10/1

William Hill: 9/1

Ladbrokes: 8/1 (listed as Article 9 Association)

John F. Kerry or Mohammad Javad Zarif

Okay, this is a bit of a cheat. There's been lots and lots of speculation that someone involved in this summer's nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers could win the award – be it Secretary of State John F. Kerry or his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, or someone else.

It certainly could happen, but bettors are not buying it. Neither Kerry nor Zarif appears high on the betting sites, and in some cases they don't appear at all.

Paddy Power: 16/1 for Zarif

William Hill: Neither listed

Ladbrokes: 10/1 for Kerry


Please note: The odds were correct at the time of writing but they may have changed. You can check them again on the bookmakers' Web sites (Paddy Power, William Hill, and Ladbrokes) and see some of the other unusual odds offered. For example, at the time of writing, you can get 25-1 odds on Barack Obama winning his second Nobel Peace Prize at Ladbrokes, or get 500-1 odds for embattled and loathed FIFA boss Sepp Blatter at Paddy Power.

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