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(USA TODAY) -- As the wind blew and the rain fell, President Obama stepped outsidethe White House for five minutes today for a holiday ritual: pardoning alucky turkey named Popcorn.

Obama also engaged in another White House tradition: Telling jokes about the turkey pardoning.

"Theoffice of the presidency - the most powerful position in the world -brings with it many awesome and solemn responsibilities," Obama saidduring a ceremony on the North Portico.

"This is not one of them."

Notingthat Popcorn was one of 80 birds that competed for a pardon from theThanksgiving table, Obama said: "It was, quite literally, the HungerGames."

As daughters Malia and Sasha and official guests lookedon, Obama asserted his presidential authority: "Popcorn, you have a fullreprieve from cranberry sauce and stuffing. We wish you well."

Asfor runner-up Caramel - who is also being spared this Thanksgiving -Obama joked that "he's already busy raising money for his nextcampaign."

The president, first lady Michelle Obama and theirdaughters were scheduled to do a Thanksgiving-related public serviceevent later on Thursday.

This was the 66th annual presentation of the National Thanksgiving Turkey, courtesy of the National Turkey Federation.

Votersacross the country got to choose between finalists Popcorn and Caramelby casting ballots via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Carameland Popcorn, both of whom are 20 weeks old and weigh about 38 poundseach, grew up on a farm in Minnesota. After the ceremony, they weredriven to George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens for publicviewing during the holidays.

Various organizations have beengiving turkeys to presidents for years - the practice can be traced backto at least the 1870s - and Abraham Lincoln is said to have saved thelife 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 Postnewspaper story used the terms "pardon" and "reprieve" when PresidentJohn F. Kennedy said of the national turkey, "let's keep him going."

In1989, 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 endup on the president's holiday table."

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