The Integrity of Fat Bear Week Has Been Marred By Ballot Stuffing

The Internet has become an increasingly unpleasant place to be, and now the integrity of an annual competition has been compromised by ballot-stuffing. Each year, Alaska's Katmai National Park sponsors Fat Bear Week to determine the property’s heftiest bear. The low-stakes tournament has been held in some form since 2014. The park is home to more than 2,200 brown bears, and as they bulk up ahead of hibernation, Katmai shares pictures of the beefiest contenders in a March Madness-style bracket. In early October, the public gets to vote for the bear they think deserves the coveted title and the winner is announced at the end of the week. What started as a creative way for Katmai National Park to engage with followers has since exploded into a phenomenon that attracts international coverage. Popular bears now have dedicated groups of fans rooting for their success. With the event gaining so much attention, it was only a matter of time before someone tried to ruin it. After announcing Bear 435’s domination over Bear 747 (pictured above), the park retracted her win after discarding the spam votes. The account didn’t reveal who was trying to rig the contest or for what purpose, but it did state that it was easy to determine which votes were fraudulent. After a drama-filled week of bulging bellies, Bear 747 was the clear winner, beating Bear 435 (pictured below) by about 7,500 votes. To avoid giving bad actors any ideas for the future, Katmai officials will not release any details of exactly how the cheating took place. According to organizers, despite the cheating scandal, Fat Bear Week 2022 was an overwhelming success.