Voting in this round has now closed. Check back Monday morning to vote in the championship round!

The Ultimate Texas Celebrity Bracket has winnowed its field down to just four. In a contest that’s seen stunning upsets—Beyoncé’s third-round exit, Elon Musk’s humiliation at the hands of San Antonio personal injury lawyer Thomas J. Henry, the Cinderella run of Kinky Friedman—the final four has emerged. Unlike previous rounds, which saw voting end at 4:30 p.m. the day voting began, this round will extend through most of the holiday weekend, giving you extra time to weigh in before we reveal our championship round on Monday. May the best Texan win! 

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

It Was Always Going to Come to This

The left-hand side of the bracket saw a great many huge stars, but the top seeds have spent years in a class by themselves. Many, many (many, many, many, many, in Willie’s case) years. Some bracket outcomes are a surprise. Who could have foreseen Kinky Friedman’s epic run to the elite eight? Not us! We expected him to get bounced by Brené Brown in round one. And others are what the sports-betting world refers to as “chalk”: heavy favorites that easily fulfill their promise. 

To that end, we have a matchup before us that feels almost inevitable: Willie Nelson, the top seed 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 with the caps lock on. The perception that outsiders have of Texas, and Texans, has been shaped over the course of the past several decades by those two. Of course they were both headed to the final four. 

Willie has dominated the bracket in each of its rounds, but his fourth-round matchup, against the great George Strait, was a narrower victory than he achieved against his previous opponents. That’s relative, of course—instead of winning with ninety percent of the vote, he walked away with around seventy percent. What that does tell us, though, is that there are a good number of Texas Monthly readers who, when they look at the stars at night shining big and bright deep in the heart of Texas, aren’t so taken by Willie’s luminescence that they can’t see who else is around him. Will Matthew McConaughey be the one to take him out? We’ll find out soon, but McConaughey enjoyed margins over Tommy Lee Jones in round four similar to the one Willie pulled against King George. If you’re betting on this bracket (note: don’t do that), Willie’s probably the safer money, but McConaughey has proved he holds a firm grip on Texans’ hearts.

And in the Other Corner

The battle in round four between Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan and the greatest gymnast to ever don a leotard, Simone Biles, was intense. Ryan held the lead throughout most of the day, when a last-minute rally by Biles kept the two neck and neck in a tally of votes across, X/Twitter, and Instagram. In the end, Biles narrowed Ryan’s lead to a margin of just thirteen votes. Had voting continued for another thirty minutes, the GOAT from Spring would be advancing to the final four. Rules are rules, however, and voting closed at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday with Ryan in front, and so the major league legend from southeast Texas. 

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

Clarkson’s fourth-round victory over Friedman ends a Cinderella run from the Jewish Cowboy, who proved himself wildly popular by dispatching one of the toughest sets of opponents anyone in the contest had to face: It started with Houston’s widely adored self-help guru Brené Brown; extended to social media maven Ms. Tina Knowles, mother of Beyoncé and an icon in her own right; and continued with a stunning upset over Fixer Uppers Chip and Joanna Gaines. Every fairy tale ends at some point, though, and Kinky’s came to its conclusion in round four, as Clarkson—who notched just seven more votes than Friedman on—turned out 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 run continue, or does the all-time leader in no-hitters still have some zip on 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/picture 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