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As we head into day three of Texas Monthly’s Ultimate Celebrity Bracket, a few things are clear: you love Willie Nelson every bit as much as we thought you did, Matthew McConaughey is your favorite white male actor under retirement age, Tim Duncan still holds Texans’ hearts, and you’re not yet tired of Chip and Jo

The marquee matchup in the sweet sixteen comes down to a battle between George Strait, who has thus far proved to be a dominant force, and Ms. Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, but a lot of compelling contests are in store. Let’s see how things shake out in the voting below. 

Texas Monthly Celebrity Bracket: Round 3
Illustration by Max-o-matic

Who Rocks Texas?

The Willie Train Rolls On

After first eliminating Tanya Tucker in round one, Willie Nelson (1) faced off against Kacey Musgraves (10) in round two. On Tuesday, after we shared the poll on Instagram, Musgraves messaged us: “That’s cold,” she wrote. No doubt a round-two matchup against the Red-Headed Stranger is rough, but Willie comes for us all in the end. This round, it’s Selena Gomez’s turn to face off against the top seed. She’s been successful so far, winning a squeaker against Leon Bridges in round one before dispatching the great Erykah Badu in round two—but Willie is a unique challenge. We assume that both Tanya and Kacey voted for him in their matchups. 

A Royal Showdown

Sometimes things just work out: for round three, we’ve got a matchup between Queen Bey and King George. Both Beyoncé (2) and George Strait (4) have made short work of their competition through the first two rounds, eliminating Charley Crockett and Demi Lovato, and Lyle Lovett and Megan Thee Stallion, respectively. This contest is one of the toughest we’re likely to see in the bracket—both competitors earned their crowns the hard way, both are capable of drawing a hundred thousand fans to a concert anywhere in Texas you can plug in a PA, and both inspire a deep passion in their fans. We’ll be watching this one closely. 

Hollywood, Texas

A Cinderella Story Hits the McConaissance

Carol Burnett’s (14) success has been one of the nicer stories of this bracket—the 91-year-old San Antonio native and icon of television comedy proved that her legend resonates with Texans by unseating Eva Longoria and Forest Whitaker in the first two rounds. To continue her run, she’ll have to get past the Hollywood division’s top seed, Matthew McConaughey, who most recently trounced the beloved Jesse Plemons.

A Generational Battle

Tommy Lee Jones (4) knocked off Texas Monthly staff sentimental fave Owen Wilson in a round two contest, while Renée Zellweger (8) affirmed her “America’s sweetheart” status in a close matchup against the iconic Jamie Foxx in the same round. Now the two stars come head-to-head, pitting Katy against San Saba, Bridget Jones against Lonesome Dove, a two-time Oscar winner (Zellweger) against a one-time winner (Jones). This has all the makings of a photo finish. 

Sporting Life

The Big Fundamental or the GOAT? 

Tim Duncan (5) didn’t just win in the first two rounds, he dominated the competition, besting Jose Altuve and Sheryl Swoopes with margins of more than 25 points. Other star athletes who’ve played their entire careers in a single city—Altuve, Dak Prescott, and C.J. Stroud among them—struggled to resonate deeply with a statewide fan base, but seemingly everyone can appreciate the Big Fundamental. Even Spurs haters have to respect the guy—what’s to dislike about the famously drama-free NBA great

His round-three opponent, though, is in a class by herself: Simone Biles (1), ladies and gentlemen, the undisputed all-time world heavyweight champion of gymnastics, an athlete and artist so unbelievably skilled that we long ago ran out of superlatives with which to describe her. If Duncan wins here, it’ll likely be because Biles won’t have had the chance to remind us of her greatness until the Paris Olympics this summer. 

Two Very Different No. 34s

Nolan Ryan (6) avoided the pitfalls that sank the bracket hopes of most athletes who spent their careers in a single Texas city by wisely deciding to divide his career between the Astros and the Rangers, logging nine seasons in Houston and another five in North Texas. Accordingly, his number 34 jersey is retired by both organizations, and he resides in the Hall of Fame for each franchise. 

The University of Texas at Austin football program has also retired number 34, in honor of Longhorns legend Ricky Williams (8), who won the Heisman Trophy in 1998 and helped restore the program to prominence during his time leading the backfield. Williams’s on-field accomplishments were impressive, but his fame also comes from his iconoclastic personality, represented by his decision to pursue his love of weed over his love of football during his initial early retirement from the NFL (he returned to the game after a stint off to “find himself”), his pursuit of a degree in massage therapy toward the end of his playing career, his choice to take his wife’s name after marriage, and his passionate veganism. 

Bring On the Wild Cards

NBC Takes On ABC

How do you feel about unscripted-television hosts? Do you prefer when their side hustle is topping the music charts or owning an NBA team? Let’s find out in round three, as billionaire investor Mark Cuban (5) takes on eight-time Grammy Award winner Kelly Clarkson (7) to advance to the elite eight! Clarkson’s early victories came against Jenna Bush Hager and, in what was effectively a second-round bye, San Antonio personal injury lawyer Thomas J. Henry, who seemed to advance to the second round by virtue of widespread antipathy toward his round-one opponent, notorious human cartoon character Elon Musk. Cuban had the tougher path, facing a close race in round two against Austin barbecue star Aaron Franklin. (For the curious: while Franklin narrowly edged out Cuban in the voting on, Cuban’s edge among Instagram voters pushed him over the top.)

He Ain’t Kinky, He’s Going to the Silos

Another of the bracket’s Cinderella stories, Kinky Friedman (13) advanced past Houston self-help guru Brené Brown in round one and then Ms. Tina Knowles, mother of Beyoncé and a social media star in her own right, to reach the sweet sixteen. Your affinity for Kinky Friedman is duly noted. Will it be enough to get him to the next round? That’ll depend on how much you love Chip and Joanna Gaines (2), the Waco couple whose Magnolia empire crossed over from television to Target, transformed Waco, and includes some very good cupcakes.

Featured image credits: Beyoncé: Kevin Mazur/Parkwood via Getty; Biles: Jamie Squire/Getty; Cuban: Brian Fluharty/Getty; Duncan: Jim McIsaac/Getty; Gaines: Mireya Acierto/FilmMagic via Getty; Gomez: Matt Winkelmeyer/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