Oct 13, 2022
After a week of heavy competition, a new Fat Bear champion has been crowned. Bear 747, known as “Bear Force One,” claimed the title. He bested bear 901 in the finals of a weeklong, single-elimination tournament that saw over a million votes cast.
Each year, brown bears gather along Brooks River in Alaska’s Katmai National Park. There, they eat a lot of salmon as they get ready for hibernation. The park sets up cameras so people can watch as bears feed. Fans cast votes for their favorite. The event has gained popularity since it started in 2014.
“The 2022 Fat Bear Week competition was the biggest ever,” wrote naturalist Mike Fitz on the park’s website. “Congratulations to bear 747, your 2022 Fat Bear Champ. He is a quintessential example of success in the bear world.”
Success, of course, means gaining weight, and few match 747 in pounds packed on. Experts estimate he weighs over 1,400 pounds. That makes him one of the largest brown bears in the world. But his paunch wasn’t enough to secure the win — voters could factor in beauty, backstory, and any other criteria they wanted.
Controversy struck when unknown sources tried to influence the web-based voting results. "It appears someone has decided to spam the Fat Bear Week poll, but fortunately it is easy for us to tell which votes are fraudulent," Katmai National Park tweeted on Sunday. Officials quickly threw out the fake votes, leaving 747 alone at the top. He’ll head into hibernation as a two-time winner. He joins last year’s champ Otis and 2015 winner Beadnose as the only bears to claim multiple titles.
Sleep well, 747. You’ve earned it.
Photo from Katmai National Park’s Twitter.
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