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President Barack Obama and nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson watch the National Thanksgiving Turkey, Tater, flap during the pardon of the National Thanksgiving Turkey ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, Nov. 23, 2016
President Barack Obama and nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson watch the National Thanksgiving Turkey, Tater, flap during the pardon of the National Thanksgiving Turkey ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, Nov. 23, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Tomorrow is one of the best days of the year to be an American. It’s a day to count our blessings, spend time with the ones we love, and enjoy some good food and some great company. But it’s also one of the worst days of the year to be a turkey. They don’t have it so good.
President Barack Obama

This Thursday, friends and families across the United States will gather to give thanks, spend time with loved ones and enjoy a festive meal. But before the First Family sits down to their Thanksgiving dinner, President Obama will continue a long-cherished White House tradition and pardon the final turkey of his presidency.

Since 1947, the chairman of the National Turkey Federation has presented a turkey to the President of the United States, who grants a pardon to the bird.

While only one can be named the National Thanksgiving Turkey, both lucky birds will be sent to their new home at Virginia Tech where they will be cared for by veterinarians and students of Virginia Tech’s Animal and Poultry Sciences Department at “Gobbler's Rest” in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Tune in here to watch the official pardoning ceremony.

And it is my great privilege -- well, it’s my privilege -- actually, let’s just say it’s my job -- to grant them clemency this afternoon. As I do, I want to take a moment to recognize the brave turkeys who weren’t so lucky, who didn’t get to ride the gravy train to freedom -- who met their fate with courage and sacrifice -- and proved that they weren’t chicken.
President Obama, November 23, 2016


Read the President's remarks, including many more Thanksgiving Day puns, here. 

Which turkey will take home this year's title? Per a recent digital tradition, you can vote for your favorite on social media. Meet this year's contenders: Tater and Tot!

tater  Tot

A look back: President Obama's turkey pardons

President Obama has had the honor of pardoning multiple birds. In case you missed the previous years, here's a look back:

2009 - The President officially pardoned not one but two turkeys, sparing both “Courage” and “Carolina” at the request of his compassionate daughters, Sasha and Malia and starting a new tradition.

2010 - After a rigorous competition to win the presidential pardon at home on Foster Farms Wellsford Ranch near Modesto, California, President Obama pardoned both Apple and his understudy Cider. Both turkeys were then sent to live out their days at Mount Vernon, home of our nation’s first President George Washington.

2011 - President Obama pardoned turkeys Peace and Liberty on the North Portico of the White House.

2012 - This year marked the 65th anniversary of the National Turkey presentation and the first time the American people cast their vote via the White House Facebook page to decide which of two turkeys would receive the honor. Cobbler won the title of National Thanksgiving Turkey, but both he and his alternate, Gobbler, received the official pardon.

2013 - This year, White House digital audiences could vote on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for Caramel or Popcorn.

Caramel and Popcorn Instagram video

2014 - The American people were graced with the opportunity to meet Mac and Cheese. Cheese was ultimately voted the 2014 National Thanksgiving Turkey.

2015 - Last year, we were introduced to Honest & Abe, two twin male turkeys. While their love for country music made them a stand out, both turkeys were fortunate enough to be pardoned by President Obama.

Vote 2015

President Barack Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia participate in the annual National Thanksgiving Turkey pardon ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, Nov. 25, 2015. National Turkey Federation Chairman Jihad Douglas participates. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia participate in the annual National Thanksgiving Turkey pardon ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, Nov. 25, 2015. National Turkey Federation Chairman Jihad Douglas participates. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


Happy Thanksgiving!

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