"Let’s face it, you're a turkey and you’re named after a side dish. Your chances of escaping Thanksgiving dinner are pretty low," Obama said. "So these guys are well ahead of the curve. They really beat the odds."
His daughters Malia and Sasha stood nearby. The president asked if they wanted to pet one of the birds. They did not.
Only one turkey gets to take a starring role in the pardon: Twitter users picked Cheese because, we suspect, his name is Cheese. Everyone loves cheese.
"I know some will call this amnesty," Obama said. "But don't worry, there's plenty of turkey to go around."
After the pardon, the president, his daughters and first lady Michelle Obama will take "two turkeys who didn't make the cut" to a Washington, D.C., food pantry.
Obama pardoned Cheese with what has become a tradition -- by appearing to deliver a priestly blessing of some sort. He also delivered a less-than-complimentary observation.
"Turkeys don't have the best looking heads," he said. "You know what I'm saying?"
Even the pardoner wondered why he was using his legal authority to save a bird.
"It is a little puzzling that I do this every year," Obama said. But with all the "tough stuff" he has to deal with, he said, it's nice "to just say Happy Thanksgiving."