"747" wins Fat Bear Week despite voter fraud scandal

I recently wrote about Fat Bear Week (which was October 5-11), an annual celebration of the bears at Brooks River in Katmai National Park, Alaska, preparing for their winter hibernation. In that post I also urged you to go vote for your favorite contestant in the competition. Well, voting has closed and a winner has been announced. Meet your new champion, 747 (yes, after the airplane), who weighs approximately 1400 pounds. Marco Margaritoff of HuffPost explains that 747 pulled off his victory despite a voting fraud scandal that shook this year's contest:

The chunky 747 seemed to cruise toward victory until Sunday night, when a bear called 435 Holly overcame a 6,000-vote deficit to take the lead.  Explore [the sponsors of the contest] said an investigation revealed that "someone stuffed the ballot box" in what the organization called a "Fat Bear Week scandal for the ages." "While not unheard of, it is very uncommon for a bear to come back late in the day like that," Candice Rush of Explore told CNN. "We ended up finding just over 9,000 spam votes." Holly 435, however, appeared to be 747's most daunting opponent — until park officials added a CAPTCHA spam-prevention feature to the voting site and reviewed the fraudulent votes.

Unlike most claims of voter fraud circulating over the last few years, this one was actually real! Thank goodness officials got to the bottom of this scandal, so that the correct, deserving bear could win. While I had my heart set on aging underdog Otis, the four-time previous champion who once ate 42 salmon in one sitting, 747 is a perfect champion. I agree with Mike Fitz, Explore.com site moderator, who commented on 747's win: "He is a quintessential example of success in the bear world." Congrats, 747!