The true “titan of tonnage” has been crowned.
After a record-breaking week of voting, the Katmai National Park and Preserve named the 2021 Fat Bear Week champion as none of other than the original winner himself — 480 Otis.
The week-long celebration of bears in southwest Alaska bulking up as hibernation and winter near had fans voting on which bear they thought was the chonkiest of them all. This year, over 793,000 votes were cast during the week, breaking last year’s record of around 650,000 votes.
After a tough week of competition, 480 Otis defeated fellow big boy 151 Walker, also known as the “Baron of Beardonkadonk,” to become an unprecedented four-time Fat Bear Week champion. 480 Otis was the inaugural Fat Bear Week champion in 2014, before winning back-to-back titles in 2016-17, and then once again taking the chonky crown this year.
480 Otis took down some heavyweights on his way to winning the competition, including last year’s champion, 747. There is no actual prize for the “portly patriarch of paunch” other than global recognition he probably won’t ever be aware of.
The people have spoken! The portly patriarch of paunch persevered to pulverize the Baron of Beardonkadonk in the final match of #FatBearWeek 2021. 480 Otis can now boast a bevy of bests w/ this fourth 1st place finish. As we celebrate, like a true champ 480 is still chowing down. pic.twitter.com/rLvm7pvGJW
— Katmai National Park (@KatmaiNPS) October 6, 2021
First identified by park rangers in 2001 when he was 4-years-old, 480 Otis may be getting up there in age as brown bears typically live for around 20-30 years old, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Still, this old-timer has a few tricks up his fur.
While most of the majestic creatures in this year’s 12-bear tournament are some of the most dominant ones at the national park – which can result in confrontations over popular feeding spots – 480 Otis avoids all of that.
Instead of going after salmon, 480 Otis simply waits for them to come to him. Even though he “occasionally appears to be napping or not paying attention” to the fish, 480 Otis still succeeds in eating, as evident in him becoming the 2021 Fat Bear Week champion.
“He’s known for sitting in his ‘office’ on the far side of the fall. He just chills there and waits for the fish to come to him,” Sara Wolman, project and media manager for Katmai Conservancy, told USA TODAY last week. “He really did put on the pounds this year.”
480 Otis is one of an estimated 2,200 bears that occupy the national park, which is a popular place for them to feed before the winter due to the abundance of sockeye salmon. One fish can contain around 4,500 calories, and Cheryl Spencer, a ranger at the park, said its critical for bears to eat so much as they can lose a third of their body weight in hibernation.
More Fat Bear Week coverage: Learn about this year’s competitors
Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.