As the wind blew and the rain fell, President Obama stepped outside the White House for five minutes today for a holiday ritual: pardoning a lucky turkey named Popcorn.
Obama also engaged in another White House tradition: Telling jokes about the turkey pardoning.
"The office of the presidency — the most powerful position in the world — brings with it many awesome and solemn responsibilities," Obama said during a ceremony on the North Portico.
"This is not one of them."
Noting that Popcorn was one of 80 birds that competed for a pardon from the Thanksgiving table, Obama said: "It was, quite literally, the Hunger Games."
As daughters Malia and Sasha and official guests looked on, Obama asserted his presidential authority: "Popcorn, you have a full reprieve from cranberry sauce and stuffing. We wish you well."
As for runner-up Caramel — who is also being spared this Thanksgiving — Obama joked that "he's already busy raising money for his next campaign."
The president, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters were scheduled to do a Thanksgiving-related public service event later on Thursday.
This was the 66th annual presentation of the National Thanksgiving Turkey, courtesy of the National Turkey Federation.
Voters across the country got to choose between finalists Popcorn and Caramel by casting ballots via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Caramel and Popcorn, both of whom are 20 weeks old and weigh about 38 pounds each, grew up on a farm in Minnesota. After the ceremony, they were driven to George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens for public viewing during the holidays.
Various organizations have been giving turkeys to presidents for years — the practice can be traced back to at least the 1870s — and Abraham Lincoln is said to have saved the life of a dinner-bound fowl that his son had taken a shine to.
In years past, many presidents have simply eaten turkeys presented to them.
The White House Historical Association pointed out that a Washington Post newspaper story used the terms "pardon" and "reprieve" when President John F. Kennedy said of the national turkey, "let's keep him going."
In 1989, President George H.W. Bush said: "'Reprieve,' 'keep him going,' or 'pardon': It's all the same for the turkey, as long as he doesn't end up on the president's holiday table."
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