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Fat Bear Week 2023 kicks off: Time to pick your chunky champion

Fans can now vote for their favorite hefty bear in the annual Katmai National Park & Preserve contest celebrating Alaska's brown bears.
Fat brown bears
Posted at 12:57 PM, Oct 04, 2023

Winter is coming, but first, it’s the most bear-lliant time of the year. Fat Bear Week is here, and it’s time to pick your favorite chunk!

After dodging the government shutdown that could have disrupted Fat Bear Week, an annual celebration of bears bulking up for hibernation, it's now time to relax and join the March Madness-style showdown.

Fans can now vote for their favorite hefty bear in the annual Katmai National Park & Preserve contest celebrating Alaska's brown bears as they bulk up for winter survival.

With well-known bears like Chunk, Holly, and 747 back in the competition, it's anyone's guess who will be this year's victor.

Last year, over 1 million votes poured in from around the world. The crowned champion, 747, affectionately known as Bear Force One, tipped the scales at a hefty 1,400 pounds, securing over 37,900 votes.

But that win came with some controversy after the competition faced a scandalous incident of voter fraud. So let’s hope this year we get a clean election.

“Fat Bear Week is a celebration of success and survival. It is a way to celebrate the resilience, adaptability and strength of Katmai’s brown bears. Bears are matched against each other in a tournament-style competition, and online visitors can vote on which bear is ultimately crowned the Fat Bear Week 2023 Champion,” the park writes. 

While there are a total of 12 contestants, we would like you to meet Scripps News' favorites in the 2023 lineup:

32 Chunk: A very large boy! He was ranked earlier this year among Brooks River’s “largest and most dominant” males.

128 Grazer: A Momma Bear Extraordinaire who's not just a regular mom, but a supermom! With two litters of adorable cubs under her belt, she's earned her title as the undisputed single mom at the park because no male bear dares to mess with her.

747 Bear Force One: 2022 Fat Bear Week Champion, and while his tiny floppy ears are adorable, he’s an absolute unit and weighs approximately 1,400 lbs. Park officials say he is over 20 years of age.

435 Holly: A very, very chunky (natural blond) girl. She’s best known for adopting a lone cub into her family and raising it as her own. She’s now considered one of the most eligible bachelorettes among the bears at Brooks River.

Voting for Fat Bear Week 2023 on starts at 12 p.m. ET Wednesday and runs until Oct. 10. Explore the competition HERE!

@scrippsnews Fat Bear Week is back! It's an annual tradition in Katmai National Park and Preserve, where people across the world can support their favorite bears preparing for hibernation. Don't forget to vote for your favorites! #FatBearWeek ♬ original sound - Scripps News