History has been made in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. A record-breaking eight co-champions, all between the ages of 12 and 14, emerged after five and a half hours of spelling grueling words!
“We’re basically throwing the dictionary at you.” That’s what official pronouncer Dr. Jacque Bailly announced at the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee on May 30, and a record-breaking eight champions still spelled their way correctly to hold the big trophy! After 20 rounds, the champions (and their winning words) are as follows: Rishik Gandhasri (auslat), Erin Howard (erysipelas), Saketh Sundar (bougainvillea), Shruthika Padhy (aiguillette), Sohum Sukhatankar (pendeloque), Abhijay Kodali (palama), Christopher Serrao (cernuous), and Rojan Raja (odylic). Forty-seven words later, and these kids, who ranged from ages 12 to 14, made history!
The National Spelling Bee has produced co-champions before, but only two at most (most recently, in 2016, when Jairam Hathwar and Nihar Saireddy Janga won). The students may share their winning titles, but not when it comes their rewards! Each winner will receive a $50,000 cash prize from Scripps, the coveted Scripps Cup, reference books and flights to New York and Los Angeles to guest star on talk shows. The money and trophies were well-earned — beginning in Round 17, the finalists had to spell every word correctly until the end of Round 20, and they would be named automatic winners.
Eight co-champions may seem like a lot, but these smart kids beat out 546 competitors. Half of the 16 finalists who made it to the fourth and final night of the “Bee” were veterans, as they had previously competed during prime time at the Gaylord National Harbor Convention Center in Maryland in 2018. Obviously, this was a special group — so much so, the National Spelling Bee moderators were running short on challenging words for the students.
Before the 18th round commenced, Dr. Bailly said the competition — which began in 1925 — was in “uncharted territory” and that “we won’t run out of words, but we may run out of words that will challenge the most storied assemblage of spellers in the history of the Bee.” Clearly, that’s what ended up happening — congratulations to the young scholars!