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Fat Bear Week Is Over: Meet the Chonky Winner

One bear belly reigns supreme.

An image of a plump 747.
The last bear standing, 747.
L. Law

The brown bears of Alaska's Katmai National Park and Preserve have experienced personal growth this summer.

Nope, not the kind they'd share with friends over brunch. These bears have literally packed on the pounds to prepare for winter hibernation. (But hey, if they've also become more evolved, that's a plus.)

Wait, why are we talking about bears? Well, Tuesday brought the end of Fat Bear Week 2022. The annual tournament lets the public vote "for the bear who they think best exemplifies fatness in brown bears." 

There were 12 hefty contestants in the lineup, including last year's winner, the floppy-eared 480 Otis. In the end, the droopy-bellied 747, who shares an identification number with a jet airplane and weighs an estimated 1,400 pounds, came out on top. You can read the bios for all of this year's competing bears here.

Voting took place on FatBearWeek.org between Oct. 5 and Oct. 11. When it came to selecting a bear, voters could have simply picked the contender that looks the fattest. Or they could have considered other factors. According to the tournament's website, mother bears and older bears tend to have it tougher than some of their omnivorous opponents. 

Bears enter the den each winter and don't eat or drink until they emerge in the spring, according to the National Parks Service. They must chow down in the lead-up to survive. Fat Bear Week celebrates that the bears are looking plump. 

It also celebrates Katmai's healthy ecosystem. Hungry bears are drawn to the large number of salmon readily available from roughly late June through September at the park, according to the NPS. In terms of my own personal growth, I could probably incorporate more salmon in my diet to balance out this 900-calorie nugget boxed meal from McDonald's.