When they are in the train, heading to the Capital, Peeta tells them that his mother said that "District 12 might finally have a winner", talking, as he explained himself, about Katniss...

But isn't Haymitch a District 12's winner?

So, that statement didn't make much sense to me...

  • 18
    It had been 25 years since Haymitch won. That's a long time...
    – calccrypto
    Nov 17, 2014 at 17:22
  • 4
    Well Haymitch was a winner, but then he came back and became an alcoholic, so then people might think of him as a loser.
    – Bobo
    Nov 17, 2014 at 17:28
  • also 12 has won the least amount of times, and however much they hate the hungergames, they do feel some sense of pride and victory when their champion wins, as someone sent to die gets to come home.
    – Himarm
    Nov 17, 2014 at 17:57

4 Answers 4


Yes, Haymitch is District 12's winner from the 50th Hunger Games. As far as we know, this is the only time District 12 has won the Games prior to Peeta and Katniss taking part in the 74th Games.

This statement from Peeta's mother does not negate the fact that Haymitch was their winner many years ago. It is a matter of sentiment regarding how long its been since then, and how low performing District 12 has been historically.

  • 4
    Your second sentence isn't right. It says in the first book that there have been two District 12 victors before, though only one is still alive.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Oct 3, 2015 at 18:21
  • It helps too that Haymitch wants to disappear in people's minds by-design.
    – Möoz
    Nov 28, 2022 at 23:27

You're thinking that saying "finally" means an absolute for the first time occurrence. Yes Haymitch won the Hunger Games 24 years ago and someone else did so some time before that, but "finally" can just reference an end to the extended loosing streak. Not that they've never won.

A really wonderful real world example is in the world of sports. Fans of the Chicago Cubs have agonized over the fact their team never gets the National League Pennant or Wins the World Series. They have done both, but the last time the Cubs won the world series was 1908 which face it that's a really really long time. If in the coming season the Cubs were to win the World Series, fans would exclaim "finally!"

  • Did anyone say "finally!" in 2016?
    – Alex
    Oct 14, 2018 at 0:02

Given the low-profile of Peeta's mother's character, it's pretty difficult to draw her exact meaning from the text. So allow me to speculate.

Haymitch is an antisocial, alcoholic recluse. He does not get along with anyone in the district, except perhaps with the black market dealers from whom he purchases his booze. Katniss is aware of this reputation before meeting Haymitch. Unlike retired champions of other certain districts, he resents his position of having to send kids off to die every year and he has handled it very badly. Compare this to other champions who graciously accept their celebrity and go along with the Capital's propaganda and it becomes clear that loyal subjects may look down on Haymitch.

So perhaps what Ma Baker was saying is that Haymitch may have won 24 years ago, but he has since revealed himself as a loser.

  • I'm not so sure. Peeta says his mom told him "She's a survivor that one." That clearly indicates she's got her mind on martial prowess, rather than how she might act once she's part of the idle rich. Nov 18, 2014 at 3:31
  • Also, Peeta tells Katniss this in front of Haymitch. Katniss is pretty dim about these things, but I don't expect Peeta would pass along an obvious slight. Nov 18, 2014 at 3:32
  • there's nothing in the text that speaks for this interpretation. Occam's Razor suggests that "finally" expresses exasperation over the length of time since District 12 won the games. E.g. "Maybe the Raiders (insert other hopeless sports team here) will finally win a game" Nov 19, 2014 at 7:16

Yes, Haymitch is the winner of the Second Quarter Quell, and is the first winner of the games from District 12.

However, he is characterised in both the books and the movies as a sad drunk who never leaves his house, so really he could be considered a disgrace to District 12 and no one wants to think or speak about him, so when Peeta's mom says that District 12 might finally have a winner, she is excluding Haymitch because she does not see him worthy of being a winner.

You should also take into account of how Haymitch won the games - he technically cheated by using the forcefield at the edge of the arena. This is merely speculation, but the Capitol has displayed its power of being able to manipulate the districts already, so it wouldn't have been hard for them to convince Panem that Haymitch is a disgrace.

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