It is with equal parts sadness and joy that I must report that the end of Fat Bear Week is upon us and the fattest bear of them all has been decided.
After a week of battle between the absolute units of the Brooks River, the final two contestants in Katmai National Park and Preserve’s annual March Madness-style fat bear competition—Beadnose and 747—were locked in battle on Fat Bear Tuesday. But the race was ultimately decided in a landslide with Beadnose crowned winner.
Now look, I’m no Nate Silver, but it was clear early in the day that this race was always going to tilt one way. Absent some hanging virtual chads, early returns in the form of Facebook likes tilted two-to-one in favor of Beadnose until polls closed at 7 p.m. ET.
Bear 747 may have a belly that nearly scrapes the ground, and he is delightfully round. He may even be the fattest bear one of Katmai National Park’s biologists has ever laid eyes on. Despite all this, and despite fat bear truthers arguing Beadnose’s pose gave her a more rotund appearance, the truth is 747 never stood a chance against her.
There are Beadnose’s amazing before-and-after pictures showing her transformation from a barely-there bear just woken from winter’s slumber to obese ursine. The images reveal a level of dedication to putting on the pounds that 747 simply couldn’t match. She also raised two cubs for part of the season, giving her an extremely relatable single mom backstory.
What truly puts Beadnose over the edge, though, that side eye that says she doesn’t give a damn what you think. She is here, she is bear. This is what we all aspire to be, living the best life with no cares about what the rest of the world thinks.
Am I saying Fat Bear Week is really an exercise in how we wish to see ourselves? Yes, I am. And while it may be the end, I hope we all take the lessons we’ve learned from looking at spectacularly spheroid, jiggly ass bears and hold onto them through the long, dark winter ahead.