The names of 21 MacArthur Fellows were revealed early Wednesday. These talented individuals will receieve a gift of $625,000, paid out over five years, to be spent anyway he or she chooses.
The so-called "genius awards" from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation have been handed out to around two dozen Americans from all different fields every year since 1981.
The money is intended to give recipients the freedom to pursue new ideas or move forward with their current work.
"The fellowship is designed to provide recipients with the flexibility to pursue their own artistic, intellectual, and professional activities in the absence of specific obligations or reporting requirements," the foundation website states.
Individuals cannot apply for the awards. The fellows are chosen by an anonymous panel of experts, who inform the winners through a phone call just a couple days before the official announcement.
This year, the fellows range in age from 32 to 71. They include a documentary filmmaker, two mathematicians, a cartoonist, and a criminal lawyer, among others.
You can find more information about the 2014 MacArthur Fellows class here.
SEE ALSO: Meet one of last year's winners