By Marty DuBecky, Digital Communications Manager
Katmai National Park crowned 2022’s Fat Bear champion after a tumultuous voting scandal that could have led to a fraudulent winner.
Every year at Brooks River in Katmai National Park, Alaska, many of the most corpulent brown bears on the earth get even grander in preparation for hibernation. The bears’ mass-building preparation gives way to Fat Bear Week.
The park hosts a week-long, March Madness-esque single elimination tournament to determine which bear is the fattest, cutest and overall favorite. Voters cast online ballots each October, and the bears are matched up head-to-head in a bracket to determine which portly bear exemplifies fatness the most.
Brown Bear 747 — the winner of the 2020 Fat Bear competition — was crowned 2022’s Fat Bear. He is known to be the largest bear at Katmai, and with his adept fishing skills and physical prowess, he packed on the pounds this October. Brown Bear 747 wasn’t without competition this year, as Brown Bear 901 posed a formidable second – with 2021’s winner Otis looking as rotund as ever. Brown Bear 747 still took the cake even though voting rocked with scandal.
In the head-to-head matchup against this year’s champion and Holly (also known as Brown Bear 435), the virtual ballot boxes were stuffed. Virtual poll attendants were quick to identify the cheating attempt and put a stop to the unbearable act.
Fat Bear Week isn’t a likely subject to future scandal, as the voting system now goes through scam.com and requires a Captcha test to ensure the elimination of fraudulent voters.
Fat Bear Week will return next October 4-10, 2023. It will be until then to see the Katmai bears gorge on salmon to garner enough fatness to win.