Fat Bear Week 2022 Has Come to a Close as the Internet Crowns Alaska’s Biggest Chonk

fat bear week 2022

The annual Fat Bear Week competition has come to a close with Bear 747 — named after the plane — taking his second crown from last year’s winner Otis.

After six days of knock-out style voting, 747 won with 68,105 votes, beating out the impressive first-timer Bear 901 who racked up 56,876. 747 is estimated to weigh around 635kgs, having stacked on the weight over the summer ready for his big winter sleep.

It should come as little surprise to fans though, as 747 has been seen fishing almost every day and has become the dominant bear in the local area.

Katmai National Park, which runs the Alaskan competition, tweeted that “747 ripped apart the salmon – and the competition – to seize his 2nd crown as the 2022 Champion.”

However, the competition was not without its controversy as the park flagged that voter fraud had been detected during the knockout.

Apparently, some enterprising fans “stuffed” the ballot box with fraudulent votes for long-time favourite, Holly. In initial voting, it appeared that Holly had beat out 747 in the semi-finals, but Katmai managed to catch the erroneous 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. We have discarded the fake votes,” they tweeted.

It just goes to show how cutthroat this competition can be.

All in all, the competition clocked up over a million votes, roughly 400,000 more than in 2021. Given the hype around this year’s event, we can expect that 2023 will be bigger and fatter than ever.

Fat Bear Week 2022

America, land of the free, home of the brave, does a lot of weird stuff. From the country that brought you Donald Trump, spreadable marshmallow paste, and the Kardashians comes this latest venture into the bizarre: Fat Bear Week.

This hallowed American tradition takes place in the shouldn’t-really-be-part-of-America state of Alaska. Katmai National Park is the epicentre of the action, running its eighth annual Fat Bear Week, a head-to-head knockout of chonky bears vying for the title of Katmai’s largest.

Starting in 2014, the competition has become one of the internet’s favourites. The bears, all North American brown bears, otherwise known as Grizzly bears, have become minor online celebrities in their own right as their every move is live-streamed on the explore.org website. Nearly 793,000 votes were cast in the 2021 polls and this year is set to be even bigger.

Entrants are selected by park rangers for their local clout, having spent the spring and summer periods in the park fattening themselves on migrating salmon that travel along the Brooks River in order to spawn.

“Fat Bear Week is for the fans! It is a party that celebrates the March Madness of Nature!” said explore.org founder Charlie Annenberg Weingarten in a press release.

“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.”

Rangers note that Alaska is home to more brown bears than people and has the largest run of sockeye salmon on the planet. This year’s record number of returning salmon to Brook River has given the bears an extra opportunity to pack on the pounds for 2022’s heavyweight title.

Each of the 12 contestants have before and after photos taken, displaying the incredible growth spurts that they undergo during the feeding season in preparation for their winter hibernation. Some of them can pack on up to 200kgs over the summer and voters judge the bears based on their overall bulkiness.

This year sees bears ‘Chunk’, ‘Grazer’, ‘Walker’, ‘335’, ‘164’, ‘Holly’, ‘747’, ‘Otis’, ‘Divot’, ‘856’, ‘901’ and ‘909’s Yearling’ going head to head.

Otis was the king of the fat bears last year bringing his total wins up to four. Born between 1995 and 1997, Otis is now an elder bear who prefers sitting in wait for his salmon to come to him. This strategy once netted him 42 fish in a single go.

He’ll have to face off stiff competition this year, however, as 747, named after the famous jet plane, has been putting in the hard yards and has become the most dominant bear in the region. Park rangers estimate his weight to be around 636 kgs, making him one of the largest brown bears on Earth. For comparison, that’s like half a Toyota Corolla.

The competition kicked off this week on Wednesday, with live voting knocking 335 out against 164, and 747 beating out longtime rival 856. Divot was also knocked out by Walker while 901 took out relative newcomer 909’s Yearling.

With eight bears still remaining in the competition, it’s all to play for and the next round of live voting will take place on Friday. The next rounds are between popular favourite Holly and 164 while 747 will face off against the younger Chunk. Australian players will struggle to get their bets in however as voting happens at 3 am AEDT. Bear fanatics in WA might have better luck as they’ll only need to stay up until 12am.

The final round will commence on ‘Fat bear Tuesday’, where a winner will be crowned. This one is a little more Aussie-friendly, taking place at 10 am on Wednesday, October 11.

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