It’s that time of year again: Katmai’s Fat Bear Week is back

a very large brown bear in the water
480 Otis is the reigning Fat Bear Week champion. (Katmai National Park and Preserve)

The highly anticipated annual celebration of Katmai National Park’s most rotund bears kicks off this week.

The tournament runs Oct. 5-Oct. 11 to decide which Katmai brown bear best exemplifies “fatness.” The competition began in 2014, and has grown into a national phenomenon. 

As some of the world’s largest brown bears bulk up for the winter, the event gives voters a chance to celebrate the success of Katmai’s bears as they prepare for hibernation. (“Choose the fattest bear of the year!” the website says.)

The tournament is also meant to highlight the large sockeye salmon runs of Bristol Bay. 

Last year, an older bear named Otis took the crown for the fourth time. Around 800,000 people voted in that year’s Fat Bear Week.

The competition is arranged as a single-elimination tournament, where the public can vote in one-on-one fat bear matchups each day until one is crowned champion. (You can download your bracket here.)

The brown bears up for this year’s title will be revealed in a livestream on Monday at 3 p.m. 

The warm-up competition, called Fat Bear Junior, is going on right now. A two-year-old cub called 909’s yearling is up against a litter of three cubs that were born last winter. The winning cub will compete against the adult fat bears.

You can visit to vote.

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