Fat Bear Week 2022 Voting Begins: How to Vote & What to Know

by Jon D. B.
Fat Bear Week 2022 bracket. (Photo credit: NPS, Explore.org media release)

Game on, bear lovers! Wednesday, October 5 marks the beginning of Fat Bear Week 2022‘s single elimination tournament. Find out how you can participate, place your vote, and everything in-between right here.

It feels like yesterday that we were cheering for Otis to take his fourth victory for 2021’s tournament (which he did). But the competition is just as fierce for the old bruin this year. Favorites like 747 and Holly have packed on preposterous pounds. Salmon have been eaten by the thousands. And we’re just getting started.

Fat Bear Week (FBW) officially begins today, Wednesday October 5, and runs through Tuesday, October 11. It will be our votes who decide the King or Queen of the fattest of the fat bears. With brilliant, colorful visual aids and more fat bear photos than you can shake a partially-eaten salmon at, Katmai National Park is here to ensure you enjoy this year’s conservation-minded contest to the fullest.

Looking to participate and vote? Here’s what you need to know.

How to Vote in Fat Bear Week 2022’s Bracket

  • Voting takes place from Oct. 5 – 11, 2022
  • Matchups will be open for voting between 12 – 9  p.m. Eastern (9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Pacific) each day
    • Download your bracket to predict your own fat bear winner
  • To vote: Visit the Fat Bear Week website
  • Once there, select your choice by clicking or tapping on the photos of the bear
    • That bear will then be outlined in blue
    • Then enter your email where prompted
    • You know that you have successfully voted if you see the total votes for each bear

The festivities culminate in Fat Bear Tuesday (Oct. 11), in which the victor will be crowned. And remember, folks, this is a single elimination tournament. As Explore.org explains, “For each match-up, vote for the bear you believe best exemplifies fatness. The bear with the most votes advances to the next round. Only one will be crowned champion of Fat Bear Week!”

To meet this year’s combatants, our Meet Fat Bear Week 2022’s Colossally Chunky Contenders has you covered.

If you’re new to the natural world’s answer to March Madness, FBW “is a celebration of success and survival. It is a way to celebrate the resilience, adaptability and strength of Katmai’s brown bears,” Explore.org continues. “Bears are matched against each other in a ‘march madness’ style competition and online visitors can vote who is ultimately crowned the Fat Bear Week 2022 Champion.”

Over the course of this week long celebration, “virtual visitors learn more about the lives and histories of individual bears while also gaining a greater understanding of Katmai’s ecosystem through a series of live events hosted on explore.org.”

Which Bear Should I Vote For?

Want to vote with a little more finesse than who’s the fattest? Fair! As the masterminds behind the tournament offer, “Your Fat Bear Week vote can be based on many factors”:

  • “You may want to consider the tremendous growth spurts experienced by younger bears. Subadult (teenage) bears and cubs, for example, grow proportionally more each year than even the biggest adults.”
  • “Perhaps you want to weigh your vote toward bears with extenuating circumstances such as a mother’s cost of raising cubs or the additional challenges that older bears face as they age. A mother bear’s ability to gain weight is harder compared to other bears because she must provide for herself and the welfare of her cubs.”
  • “An older bear can have difficulty finding access to its preferred fishing spots due to competition with larger and younger bears.”
  • “You can also vote for the bear you think is the simply the largest and fattest.” In short, FBW is a subjective competition. Be sure to campaign for your favorite candidate using #FatBearWeek on social media. Download your blank bracket to predict your own fat bear winner.

In short, Fat Bear Week is completely subjective and here to celebrate brown bear conservation. And the best way to get in on the fun as you vote is to follow #FatBearWeek and post using the hashtag on social media.

Happy Fat Bear Week, Outsiders, and may the fattest bear win!