Fat Bear Week Is Back and You Can Vote for Your Chubbiest Champ

You can cast your votes in matchups through October 10, when a Fat Bear Week champion is crowned.

It's finally back. The moment we've all been waiting for (and feared wouldn't happen this year) has arrived. This year's fattest bear champion is about to be crowned, and it is all in your hands.

That's right. The annual Fat Bear Week is officially launching tomorrow and will continue through October 10, courtesy of Katmai Conservancy and Explore.org. It's a much-anticipated annual tournament, and a can't-miss event for bear fans across the country.

If you don't know what we're talking about, the event name literally says it all. It is a week in which the world-famous brown bears of Brooks River, Alaska compete against one another to establish who the next chunky king will be right ahead of winter hibernation. It is truly a celebration of good health, if you think about it! No room for fat shaming in this house!

fat bear week 2023 brackets
Image courtesy of Explore.org

The Fat Bear Week 2023 tournament is single elimination, and relies on online voting from the public throughout the week. Through media of the various participating bears of Brooks Falls, fans can vote for the bear who best embodies pre-hibernation fatness, and only the bear with the most votes gets to advance in the competition.

You can literally monitor the bears throughout the week for a well-informed vote, no matter where in the world you live. Thanks to the live bear cams on explore.org, you can watch the huge animals minding their own business and doing their thing in Katmai National Park and Preserve, from fishing for sockeye salmon—the pillar to pre-hibernation bulking!—to going for leisurely strolls.

fat bear
Photo by F. Jimenez, courtesy of NPS

Mind you, these bears are really huge, so it's going to be a tough battle. Plus, some of them have been fan favorites for a while, and their supporters are fierce.

"With each passing year, I find myself more in love with the brown bears," Explore.org founder Charlie Annenberg Weingarten said in a statement. "From 747 to the beloved Otis and the relationship between sisters 909 and 910 and their cubs, the magic of the bears never ceases to amaze. It is a privilege to be a steward for Katmai National Park and work alongside the Katmai Conservancy and park rangers. Fat Bear Week is for the fans! It is a party that celebrates the March Madness of Nature!"

Starting October 4, you'll be able to vote for your favorite bear online, and you'll be able to see photos of each competitor taken both during early summer and late summer to see how much weight they've put on. You can also share your support for your favorite fat bear on social media by using #FatBearWeek on your posts.

To cast your vote and to leave an optional donation to the Katmai Conservancy's Otis Fund to support Katmai's brown bears and salmon, you can visit this website. May the fattest king win!

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Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She will beg you not to put pineapple on pizza. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.