Texas Celebrity Final Four: Willie, McConaughey, Kelly, Nolan

The Ultimate Texas Celebrity Bracket has whittled its field down to just four. In a race that has seen stunning upsets—Beyoncé’s third-round exit, Elon Musk’s humiliation at the hands of San Antonio personal injury attorney Thomas J. Henry, Kinky Friedman’s Cinderella run—the top four have emerged last. Unlike previous rounds, where voting ended at 4:30pm on the day voting began, this round will run through most of the holiday weekend, giving you extra time to weigh in before we reveal our championship round on Monday. May the best Texas win!

Texas Celebrity Monthly Bracket: Round 5Texas Celebrity Monthly Bracket: Round 5
Illustration by Max-o-matic

It would always come down to this

The left side of the bracket saw many big stars, but the top seeds have spent years in a class of their own. Many, many (many, many, many, many, in Willie’s case) years. Some bracket results are a surprise. Who could have predicted Kinky Friedman’s epic run to the elite eight? Not us! We expected him to jump Brené Brown in the first round. And the others are what the sports betting world refers to as “chalks”: heavy favorites that easily deliver on their promise.

To that end, we have a matchup before us that feels almost inevitable: Willie Nelson, the patriarch in our music division, against Matthew McConaughey, the top seed in Hollywood. They both earned their seeding for a reason. Texans have told us, in many ways over the years, that they love these guys — and more, that they identify with them and recognize them as avatars of how we see ourselves and how we want the world to see us. Both Willie and McConaughey are widely identified by the rest of the world as TEXANS by locking hats. The perception outsiders have of Texas and Texans has been shaped over the past few decades by both. Of course they both went to the finals.

Willie has dominated the group in each of his rounds, but his fourth round match, against the great George Strait, was a narrower victory than he has managed against his previous opponents. This, of course, is relative – instead of winning with ninety percent of the vote, he walked away with about seventy percent. What that BEN tell us, however, is that there are a good number of Texas Monthly readers who, when they watch the stars at night shining bright and shining deep in the heart of Texas, are not so overcome by Willie’s luminescence that they cannot see who else is around him. Will Matthew McConaughey be the one to take it out? We’ll find out soon enough, but McConaughey enjoyed a margin over Tommy Lee Jones in the fourth round similar to the one Willie drew against King George. If you’re betting on this bracket (note: don’t), Willie is probably the safest money, but McConaughey has proven to keep a firm grip on Texans’ hearts.

And in the other corner

The fourth-round battle between Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan and the greatest gymnast to ever wear a leotard, Simone Biles, was intense. Ryan held the lead for most of the day, when a last-minute rally by Biles kept the two neck-and-neck in a number of votes on TexasMonthly.com, X/Twitter and Instagram. In the end, Biles narrowed Ryan’s lead to just thirteen votes. If the voting continued for another thirty minutes, the goat from Spring would go to the final four. Rules are rules, though, and voting closed at 4:30 p.m. Thursday with Ryan ahead, and thus the major league legend from southeast Texas.

His opponent in the final four is a North Texas multihyphenate whose dominance of the Wild Card division has shown that it is deeply embedded in the hearts of Texans: Fort Worth native Kelly Clarkson, back-to-back victories over iconic Texans, including Mark Cuban and Kinky. Friedman.

Clarkson’s fourth-round win over Friedman ends a Cinderella run by the Jewish cowboy, who has proved wildly popular by dispatching one of the toughest groups of opponents anyone has had to face in the competition : Started with Houston self-help guru Brené Brown. ; it also extends to the social media person, mrs. Tina Knowles, Beyonce’s mother and an icon in her own right; and went on with an astonishing gloom Fixer uppers Chip and Joanna Gaines. However, every fairy tale ends at some point, and Kinky’s came to an end in the fourth round as Clarkson — who received just seven more votes than Friedman on TexasMonthly.com — proved to be a dominant force among social media users. , pulling in more than 70 percent of the vote on both Instagram and X/Twitter, and punching her ticket to the final four. Will Clarkson’s streak continue, or does the all-time leader in no-hitters still have some zip to his fastball? We’ll find out on Monday!

Featured Image Credits: Clarkson: Weiss Eubanks/NBCUniversal via Getty; McConaughey: Lloyd Bishop/NBCUniversal via Getty; Nelson: Paul Natkin/WireImage; Ryan: Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty

Bracket Image Credits: Biles: Tom Weller/Photo Alliance via Getty; Beyoncé: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP; Longoria: Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty; Nelson: CBS Photo Archive/Getty; Cuban: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty

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