No joke. The World Cup Final drew 700 million viewers globally. The Chilean miner rescue? A cool bil. Although, in fairness, the miner rescue had the advantage of not being crushingly boring. We’re grading you on a curve, FIFA!

Seriously, it’s a television spectacle for the ages. For the one or two of you reading this who haven’t watched yet, not only do they have cameras trained on the escape hole at the surface to capture the scene as the miners emerge, they’ve got one set up in the underground chamber where the last of the 33 are huddled, waiting patiently for their turn to ride to freedom after two months in the dungeon. Mmmmmm, that’s good drama. And beneath the drama, of course, lies wonder. Wonder at the engineering feat that was required to bring them up safely (NASA consulted on the mission, providing a special liquid diet to keep the men from vomiting during the ascent); wonder at the physical ordeal of subsisting on two spoonfuls of tuna and a sip of milk every 48 hours for 17 days amid temperatures exceeding 90 degrees; and of course wonder at the fact that, given the psychological dynamics, it didn’t end up turning into “Lord of the Flies” down there. Sounds like it was headed that way early on:

Five of the 33 trapped Chilean miners formed a breakaway group after becoming isolated from the rest because of their status as “subcontracted workers”, according to reports.

Although the 33 have presented a display of unity since being discovered alive, in the early days, some of the men were allegedly “treated as second class citizens within the refuge”, according to a source within the rescue team who had spoken to Chilean national newspaper El Mercurio.

“Actually they were marginalised and had set up camp in another part of the mine, away from the rest of the group”, the source said.

Said one miner’s wife, “Things went on down there which will never be spoken of.” She’s not kidding: Apparently they’ve made a pact to turn down interviews and instead write a book together, with mucho cashing-in opportunities to follow. (“If we do this properly we won’t have to work for the rest of our lives.”) I’ll be first on line to buy it to find out how they maintained their discipline in rationing such small amounts of food during that first 17 days when they didn’t know if they’d be rescued. I can imagine doing that for a week or so, but as one week turns into two and you’re starving and desperate, discipline is bound to break down — or not, apparently. I wonder how much longer they could have gone before this turned into a very different type of South American survival story.

The best article I’ve read about the rescue is MSNBC’s, so if you can spare five minutes, dive into that. Here’s my favorite part, about the second man up:

Book and movie deals are pending, along with job offers. Previously unimaginable riches await a simple signature for those with savvy.

Sepulveda appeared well aware of his budding options. His performance exiting from the shaft appeared to confirm what many Chileans thought when they saw his engaging performances in videos sent up from below — that he could have a future as a TV personality.

And here’s the video of Sepulveda, handing out rocks from the mine as “gifts” and looking like he’s ready to head straight to the club. Fiesta for-evah!