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How to vote; meet competitors vying to be winner

The contest to decide the champion of chonk is underway, as the bracket for 2022 Fat Bear Week has been unveiled.

The Katmai National Park and Preserve in southwest Alaska announced the 12 bears competing in this year’s event, showcasing a mix of past winners and fan favorites, alongside some new faces to freshen up the action.

It’s actually a difficult task to decide which bears will be selected for the competition, said Lian Law, visual information specialist at the park and lead for Fat Bear Week. 

The process begins in the summer because that’s when the bears are still somewhat skinny. Contest officials review them again in late summer after they pack on weight from eating salmon. They are also wild animals, so it’s challenging to find them and take pictures that show off their bulky form.

“Getting those pictures is very difficult. Some of the bears, at this time of year, they’re not even getting out of the water, hardly ever to leave their fishing spots,” Law said. “They don’t just show up on schedule.”

Bear 128, Grazer, is pictured with cubs in search of food in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska.

Luckily, some of the most bodacious bears to make the competition are back again. Of the eight bears to ever be named champion, six past winners are in the 2022 bracket, including four-time champion and winner of the 2021 Fat Bear Week, 480 Otis

And even with other favorites like 435 Holly and 747 returning, don’t rule out any newcomers making a run at the title.

“Bears are individuals and they have different personalities and life stories,” Law said. “It’s always interesting to see the newcomers and what they are bringing.” 

Voting begins on Oct. 5 and goes through Oct. 11. You can cast your vote here.

Here are the 12 bears vying for the crown this year, along with some personal information about each one.

Fat Bear Week coverage: Learn more about the celebration of big, bodacious and breathtaking creatures

2021 champion of chonk: 480 Otis, your 2021 Fat Bear Week Champion and four-time winner

480 Otis


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