Obama Pardons Turkeys As Part Of Annual Rite

President Obama pardoned "Popcorn," a lucky turkey that was picked from 80 contestants in the annual act of compassion on Wednesday. "It was, quite literally, The Hunger Games," Obama said of the competition, where votes came through via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

President Barack Obama has spared two turkeys from the oven, fulfilling the annual tradition of a presidential pardon for a couple of lucky birds ahead of the American harvest holiday of Thanksgiving.

Turkeys named Popcorn and Caramel were the lucky birds whose lives were spared -- and they'll go on display at George Washington's Mount Vernon estate for the next several weeks.

President Obama pardoned "Popcorn," a lucky turkey that was picked from 80 contestants in the annual act of compassion on Wednesday. "It was, quite literally, The Hunger Games," Obama said of the competition, where votes came through via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

An alternate turkey, named Caramel, also received a pardon, though it did not have the benefit of a face-to-beak meeting with the president.

Popcorn’s victory, Obama said, proves “that even a turkey with a funny name can find a place in politics.”

As for Caramel, “he’s sticking around and he’s already busy raising money for his next campaign,” the president said.

“The office of the presidency, the most powerful position in the world, brings with it many awesome and solemn responsibilities,” Obama began. “This is not one of them."

Presidents have spared turkeys off and on as far back as the Lincoln era, according to the White House. The first official pardon was granted by President George H.W. Bush.

Later Wednesday, Obama, wife Michelle, daughters Malia and Sasha, and mother-in-law Marian Robinson volunteered at a local charity — the Capitol Area Food Bank — distributing bags of sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, apples and small white boxes of the presidential M&Ms. The first family also planned to deliver a couple of turkeys to the food bank, although they won't be pardoned.

“Tomorrow, as we gather with our own friends and family,” Obama said on a serious note, “we’ll count ourselves lucky that there’s more to be thankful for than we can ever say and more to be hopeful for than we can ever imagine.”

About Diane Sweet

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Senior Editor, Lives in a gerrymandered district in Michigan.

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