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Punch Brothers’ Chris Thile Wins MacArthur “Genius” Grant

It was like the Godzilla of all secrets, and it came with a pretty hefty price tag. But Punch Brothers frontman and mandolin player Chris Thile already knows all about this. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awards creative individuals with a large cash prize, which they are free to use as they wish. The whole thing’s got a pretty cloak-and-dagger feel, with prize announcements kept under the strictest secrecy. Even the prospective prize winners are chosen anonymously. In fact, there is no actual application process. Thile is one of 23 people to receive the $500,000 prize. The pool of winners includes a pediatric neurosurgeon, a mathematician, an astronomer, an Oscar-nominated filmmaker, an award-winning writer, a flutist and an optical physicist, among others. At 31, Thile is the youngest of the group to receive the “Genius” grant. But what will Thile do with all that cash? He’ll be putting most of it away, actually. But for the rest, Thile has his eyes on a vintage 1925 Gibson F5 mandolin that runs anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000. 

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