This year, the committee that picks the winner received 273 nominations
It's the second-highest number of contenders on record
Of all the Nobel awards handed out every October, none is more anticipated and talked about than the prize for peace.
This year, the committee that picks the winner received 273 nominations, its second-highest number on record.
And like previous years, the buzz raged around famous contenders such as Pope Francis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
But the Nobel committee is also known for its unforeseen choices. Think this year’s winner – the National Dialogue Quartet – for its role in building democracy after the Tunisian revolution. Or President Barack Obama’s win in 2009, the first year of his presidency.
Here are five surprising tidbits about the Nobel Peace Prize:
Anyone can be nominated
You don’t have to be a pope or a president to be nominated.
But here’s the catch: The person nominating you has to be either a government official, a member of the international court, a university professor, a past laureate or a former or present member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
And no, you cannot nominate yourself.
It cannot be revoked
The Nobel Peace Prize selection committee comprises five members appointed by the Storting, Norway’s parliament.
After the February deadline to submit nominations, the committee meets several times before the October announcement to shortlist contenders and get input from the committee’s advisers. The committee then decides the winner based on a majority vote, which is final and cannot be revoked.
And don’t expect to find out if you made the contenders’ list: Information on nominations is kept private for 50 years.
Age is not an issue
Minors can be nominated. So can octogenarians.
Just ask Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, the youngest recipient, who was 17 when she was awarded the prize last year.
Since its launch in 1901, the peace prize has gone to winners young and old.
The oldest laureate was Polish scientist Joseph Rotblat, who was 87 when he won in 1995.
The most – and least – controversial
The Nobel committee gets its share of criticism with every winner – some more so than others.
Some of the loudest outcry, according to Geir Lundestad, secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, came when U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, together with Vietnamese revolutionary Gen. Le Duc Tho, won in 1973 for their efforts in negotiating a ceasefire (which turned out to be short-lived) in the Vietnam War.
Le Duc Tho turned down the award. The choice of laureates was so controversial that year, two Nobel committee members quit in protest for the first time in the peace prize’s history.
Another committee member resigned in 1994 after Fatah founder and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat won the prize, along with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, for their roles in negotiations that culminated in the Oslo Accords.
A much more popular winner was former South African President Nelson Mandela, who along with his predecessor, Frederik de Klerk, won in 1993 for their peaceful transition from an apartheid regime to a democratic South Africa.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (1964) was the most popular laureate.
The biggest controversy is who didn’t get it
King was one of several peace laureates profoundly influenced by Mohandas K. Gandhi, the leader of India’s independence movement.
In 1989, the Dalai Lama accepted the prize “as a tribute to the man who founded the modern tradition of nonviolent action for change, Mahatma Gandhi, whose life taught and inspired me.”
But Gandhi never won the prize, even though he was nominated five times, including in 1948, the year of his assassination. No peace prize was awarded that year.
Speculations have arisen over this glaring absence, and are noted on the Nobel website.
It says no non-European or non-American had won the peace prize in Gandhi’s lifetime.
“Norway was afraid of harming its relationship with Britain, which had just lost its “Jewel in the Crown” as a result of Gandhi’s efforts; there was resistance to giving the prize posthumously (though it was allowed, under certain circumstances, at the time).
Norwegian historian Oivind Stenersen told The Wall Street Journal that the committee “always had a guilty conscience” about Gandhi’s omission.
CNN’s Cameron Tankersley contributed to this report.