Every year, the president pardons one or two turkeys from being a family’s Thanksgiving feast. One turkey is actually pardoned, the other is runner-up. This year, the lucky birds are named “Mac” and “Cheese.”
But are Mac and Cheese actually lucky?
History would suggest not. While the birds may be pardoned, that doesn’t mean they get to enjoy a long life.
CNN looked into pardoned turkeys and where they go to die. They’re hauled off to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate, and given shelter in a small coop. But there, no other turkeys gobble.
That’s because all the previous pardoned turkeys are now dead. Well, almost all. There’s one lone survivor, Carmel, who was pardoned by President Obama in 2013. Carmel’s co-pardoned turkey, however, died over the summer. The 2012 pardoned turkeys died before they ever got a chance to meet Carmel.
It’s kind of like The Hunger Games. Even if you’re the one turkey who survives Thanksgiving, the odds are not in your favour.
“All the turkeys ever pardoned at the White House are dead, including the six already given a pass from the roasting pan by President Barack Obama in previous years,” CNN wrote last year.
Dean Norton, who is in charge of livestock at Mount Vernon, tells CNN why:
“The bird is bred for the table, not for longevity…Some of [the pardoned turkeys] have been pretty short lived.”
National Turkey Federation spokesperson Keith Williams tells ABC: “They’re not pets. They’re not workhorses. They don’t live that long.”
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