This post has been updated.
President Obama will participate in a White House tradition on Thursday: the pardoning of a lucky turkey who will bypass the Thanksgiving table and spend the rest of his or her days living a life of luxury on a Virginia farm.
It turns out they've opted for a repeat of last year's contest, which President Obama described it jokingly as "quite literally, 'The Hunger Games.'"
The White House is letting Twitter users choose which of two birds should be pardoned this year. Since no turkeys will be harmed in the making of this event, people will be able to choose between a delicious vegetarian meal -- Mac and Cheese, which happen to be the names of the turkeys.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 26, 2014
This year's contest is billed as "America's Next Top Turkey." It seems like the White House is going old-school this year: "America's Next Top Model" debuted in 2003.
Both Mac and Cheese were born on July 7. Cheese is the beefier of the two turkeys, weighing in at 49 pounds, two more than Mac. Cheese is billed as having a "grand champion" strut and a gobble that is "loud, romantic, with a country ring to it."
Mac is a "feather-shaker" and has a "rhythmic, melodious" gobble with a "touch of bluegrass."
Last year the White House asked people to choose which of the two turkeys should be pardoned. The choices? Caramel, a two-foot-tall bird whose walk was "steady and deliberate" and who liked listening to "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga. And Popcorn, a strutting male who liked to eat corn and listen to Beyonce. Both were born July 8, 2013 on a Minnesota farm. The two beat out about 80 other turkeys to make it to Washington.
The winner? Popcorn. We think Beyonce might have had something to do with it.
Unfortunately, Popcorn's post-pardon story does not end well. He died in July. Teresa Davenport, a spokeswoman for Morven Park, the home of a former governor of Virginia and the soon-to-be playground of the pardoned turkey, said the farm believes extreme heat may have had something to do it.
"We could tell it was kind of getting to him and then we went out and found him collapsed one day and he had died," she said. Caramel, who was always the more extroverted of the two, is doing quite well. "He looks better than ever, is really active, very friendly, vocal. He talks a lot," she said. "He loves people."
Caramel loves food and starts gobbling each morning when he hears the truck that will feed him breakfast drive up.
The White House actually pardons two turkeys each year -- a sort of lead actor, along with an understudy who will take over if the bird picked for the ceremony flips out in front of the cameras or gets sick. Just as on Broadway, one of these turkeys is going to be a star. This year's turkeys are sure being treated that way -- just as their predecessors have, they've hanging out and mugging for the cameras at a fancy Washington hotel. Both will be spared.
Mac and Cheese, who farmer Cole Cooper said they have been called Virgil and Homer, came from a farm near Fort Recovery, Ohio. They were chosen from more than 60 birds. Like many stars, the turkeys are chosen for their size and looks, but unlike in Hollywood, they need to have a good temperament.
This year's birds are big Kenny Chesney fans.
We will know which turkey officially gets pardoned this afternoon.
"It's kind of like Miss Universe, you know," Gary Cooper, chairman of the National Turkey Federation and owner of Cooper Farms where the turkeys were raised, told USA TODAY. "We've got the winner and the first runner-up."