With his two daughters, Sasha and Malia, standing next to him, President Obama pardoned the National Thanksgiving Turkey at the annual White House ceremony in the Rose Garden on Wednesday.
“Abe is now a free bird. He is TOTUS—the Turkey of the United States," Obama declared.
When Obama approached Abe, the turkey gobbled loudly.
U.S. & World
"Don't interrupt," Obama said.
Two birds, Honest and Abe, were vying for the title of National Thanksgiving Turkey. This year marks the 68th anniversary of the presentation by the National Turkey Federation.
Unlike a beauty pageant contestant, not much differentiated the two Nicholas White birds. The fourth-month-old pair weigh nearly the same amount, have a wingspan of 6 feet and enjoy country music, according to the White House.
Honest is known to have a "skoots in boots" waddle, while Abe has more of a "macho man" swagger. The public voted to save their favorite turkey on Twitter, using #TurkeyPardon2015 and picked Abe.
The turkeys were raised by Foster Farms in Modesto, California. Originally named Tom One and Tom Two, they were chosen by staffers at the farm with a little help from a class of fifth grade students from nearby Eisenhut Elementary School. The students cheered for their favorite from a list of 20 finalists. The lucky turkeys were flown to the nation's capital on Monday.
President Barack Obama pardoned his seventh turkey in what many believe is a Thanksgiving tradition dating back to 1947 when President Harry Truman pardoned the first holiday bird presented by the National Turkey Federation.
But as the old adage goes, when legend becomes fact, print the legend.
There’s no evidence, "documents, speeches, newspaper clippings, or photographs" that Truman pardoned the first ceremonial turkey, according to the Truman Library. The library issued a statement in 2003 to clarify the myth, saying "Truman sometimes indicated to reporters that the turkeys he received were destined for the family dinner table."
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy was quoted in the Washington Post as saying "Let's keep him going" when talking about a turkey wearing a sign that said "Good eating Mr. President," but the traditon was only formalized in 1989, with President George H. W. Bush, according to the White House Historical Association.
Even though Abe is the winner, both birds can count their lucky feathers. They will be sent to live on a farm in Virginia.
"It is hard to believe this is my 7th year of pardoning a turkey," Obama said. "Time flies. Turkeys don't."