Presidents have been pardoning turkeys ever since the Truman administration in 1947, but it wasn’t technically an official tradition until 1989, when President George H.W. Bush made it a permanent staple in the United State’s Thanksgiving tradition. Legend has it that this tradition dates all the way back to the Lincoln administration, when one of his sons asked him to spare the family’s Thanksgiving turkey instead of killing it for dinner.
Despite the fact that each President pardons one or two turkeys each Thanksgiving, these turkeys seem to still have a less-than-stellar lifespan. Most Presidential turkeys, like many other factory-farmed animals, are bred to be eaten. By the time the turkey pardoning date rolls around, their days are numbered.
Out of all the Presidential pardons, the Obama turkey pardon tends to have the worst luck. His pardoned turkeys rarely live longer than a year, and their deaths tend to be worse than any of the previous turkeys. We’re sure he’s not killing these turkeys on purpose, but his reputation still lingers in the holiday fowl community. The ill-fated turkeys on this list may have received a Presidential pardon, but they were still cut down in the prime of their lives. Vote up the most ill-fated pardoned turkeys below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section.