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KDLG is featuring the Anchorage Daily News' daily updates on Katmai National Park & Preserve's 2022 Fat Bear week, written by Christy NaMee Eriksen.

Crowning the champion of chonk: Historic heavyweight matches up with rotund rookie in Fat Bear finals

The Fat Bear Week 2022 final matchup between 747 and 901
The Fat Bear Week 2022 final matchup between 747 and 901

This article originally appeared at and is republished here with permission.

Happy Fat Bear Tuesday and welcome to the final massive match of the bracket. By 5 p.m. AKDT today we will have a 2022 Fat Bear Champion — but there can only be one.

Monday began looking like a normal day in the neighborhood but it turned out to be ripe time for an uprising. Despite 128 Grazer’s size, strength, veteran status on the bracket, and triple the ability to gain weight (a mother + two yearlings), she could not compete against young 901 who won by nearly 12,000 votes. 901 is a newcomer and an enthusiastic eater, and her fans wasted no time celebrating her circumference.

The final match: 747 vs 901

747 is undoubtedly, categorically, indefatigably fat. Lidar scans estimate his weight to be around 1,400 pounds, making him one of the largest brown bears in the world. At Brooks River, and certainly on this bracket, you literally cannot find a fatter bear. The most traditional interpretation of Fat Bear Week advocates a judging rubric based on pure size, and when you apply it here, 747 is the most obvious, chunkiest choice.

But many argue that it’s Fat Bear Week, not Fattest Bear Week; therefore any fat bear should be allowed to run for champion. We should then choose a winner based on other, more equal opportunity characteristics, like seasonal weight gain, survival stories, before/after photos, and sometimes just how much people like the bear, to be honest. History would support this philosophy, especially considering 747 is never not a giant but has only won Fat Bear Week once, in 2020.

Enter 901: literally a no-name (she’s so new to us as a main character that the internet community has not yet agreed on a nickname), who came into this bracket ready to rumble. She shook things up beginning with her first match, defeating 909′s Yearling (Bean), who is well-admired and a Junior bracket award-winning baby bear. 901 went on to then upset “The King” (480 Otis), largely because many voters — including full-fat Otis fans — felt that he had had his time in the winner’s circle (2014, 2016, 2017, 2020) and that 901′s dimensions deserved a day at the races, too.

A collage of bears for Fat Bear Week 2022
Sara Wolman
A collage of bears for Fat Bear Week 2022

While the first two rounds might not feel momentous, yesterday’s semifinal proved that voters are ready for fresh fat leadership and they’re not afraid to shake things up. 901 is indeed a very curvy creature. But, is she what fat bear champions are made of?

747 is the traditional choice. If he wins, the purists will collectively sigh in relief and the gargantuan game will remain relatively unchanged.

But if 901 takes the crown, she will be The People’s Bear, the face of a grassroots movement that upsized the siziest bear. The corner of the bracket with less history and less media attention. A bear who stands for campaign fatness reform! 901 is young and rotund, and she canvassed the edges — the beach, mostly — an area not nearly as rich as Brooks Falls. She is up against 747, who leads the majority of a river as soon as he walks into it.

901 was and still is the smaller underbear in the match. 747 might ride his wide privilege to the win, but what if the future is female? One bear represents tradition, one bear represents change. No matter who is voted the heavyweight champion of our hearts today, we all take prize in a long-term lesson: You don’t have to be the biggest bear to be a force to be reckoned with.

Vote today from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. AKDT at!

Poet and writer Christy NaMee Eriksen is a Kundiman fellow and three-time Rasmuson Foundation awardee who lives in Juneau. She is writing about Fat Bear Week 2022 for the Anchorage Daily News.