And the winner is: Here’s the Fat Bear Week 2022 chunky champion

Fat Bear Week is an annual, single-elimination tournament in which the public votes for which bear they think is the fattest. The competition highlights the importance of just how much bears need to bulk up for hibernation.

It's the moment we've all been waiting for. After a week of voting, the winner of the Fat Bear Week 2022 competition has been announced – but the win doesn't come without a scandal that rocked the competition.

After more than 1 million votes that were cast between Oct. 5 and 11, the public has chosen Bear 747 over his challenger, Bear 901.

HOW TO WATCH FOX WEATHER ON TV announced on Twitter Tuesday night: "THIS 747 IS CLEARED FOR LANDING. Introducing your 2022 Fat Bear Week champion."

"Few brown bears ever grow as large as the bear who shares an identification number with a jet airplane," said on its website. "When 747 was first identified in 2004, he was a relatively young bear, only a few years old and unable to compete with larger bears for the most preferred fishing locations."

But since then, Bear 747 has grown to become one of the largest brown bears on Earth and may weigh as much as 1,400 pounds.


What is Fat Bear Week?

Fat Bear Week is an annual, single-elimination tournament in which the public votes for which bear they think is the fattest. Not only are they voting for the chunkiest contender, but they are also judging which bear was most successful in preparing for hibernation. 

"Which brown bear best transcends the ordinarily large and enters the realm of extraordinarily fat?", the creator of the competition, asks. "There's no fat shaming in Fat Bear Week. Fat bears exemplify the richness of Katmai National Park and Bristol Bay, Alaska."

The bears along the Brooks River in Alaska have been consuming their final meals, and the competition highlights the importance of bulking up for their winter hibernation.

More than 1 million votes were cast during Fat Bear Week 2022, but a scandal rocked the competition.

"A Fat Bear Week scandal for the ages," said on Twitter. "Someone stuffed the ballot box!"

It turns out people were casting fraudulent votes to try and get some bears ahead in the competition.

But the issue was rectified, and said fake votes were discarded. Previous votes were checked as well to ensure fairness in the competition.

Why were we rooting for bears to get fat? 

While it might seem silly to vote on the fattest bear and call it a success story, the competition highlights the importance of bears preparing for hibernation.

During hibernation, bears don't eat or drink. The animals lose one-third of their body weight, so their winter survival depends on accumulating ample fat reserves before entering the den. 

Bears are currently at the peak of hyperphagia. 

Hyperphagia is when bears try to eat whatever they can to pack on the pounds and survive the winter. It usually lasts from late summer to early fall.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife said that bears need 20,000 calories daily to gain enough fat to survive the winter without eating or drinking during hyperphagia.

According to the National Park Service, bears may lose 15 to 30% of their body weight during hibernation, so it's crucial to get enough calories before their long winter nap.