In an unprecedented outcome, eight spellers tied to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee late Thursday night.
After 17 rounds of competition, Jacques Bailly, the event’s announcer, said that the competition would end after 20 rounds, and anyone who spelled three more words correctly would be crowned co-champions.
“We’re throwing the dictionary at you, and you’re showing the dictionary who’s boss,” Bailly said to the competitors, according to Time Magazine .
“We are now in uncharted territory,” he continued. “We do have plenty of words remaining on our list, but we’ll soon run out of words that will possibly challenge you, the most phenomenal assemblage of super-spellers in the history of this competition.”
According to the New York Times, the event has had six two-way ties in its history, but never have so many contestants made it so far into the competition.
All eight spellers that remained after 17 rounds made it through the next three, meaning all tied for the win.
The eight co-champions of the 92nd annual bee were: Rishik Gandhasri, 13, of San Jose, California; Erin Howard, 14, of Huntsville, Alabama; Saketh Sundar, 13, of Clarksville, Maryland; Shruthika Padhy, 13, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey; Sohum Sukhatankar, 13, of Dallas, Texas; Abhijay Kodali, 12, of Flower Mound, Texas; Christopher Serrao, 12, of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey; and Rohan Raja, 13, of Irving, Texas.
Among the eight winning words were “auslaut,” “erysipelas,” “bougainvillea,” “aiguillette” and “pendeloque.”
According to the Times, all eight winners will take home the full traditional $50,000 prize and each will get their own trophy.
Appearing on the Today show on Friday morning, the co-champions explained what it felt like to win the bee as a group.
“Frankly, I never expected to be here,” Howard shared. “I had convinced myself that the bell was going to ring on me at some point, because the odds are against you whenever you do this competition.”
“Somehow, the bell did not ring and I made it all the way to the championship round and that’s an amazing feeling and I’m very grateful for it,” she continued.
When asked whether they would have preferred to keep the competition going even later into the night, until only one speller remained, the answer was a unanimous “no.”
“We were all sleepy and, also, we all wanted to win together,” Serrao said. “It wasn’t like something where we were all competing with each other, we were competing together.”
And what did the group do to celebrate after their win?
“[We celebrated together] on the stage, but then we all went back to our rooms because we were really tired,” Serrao said.
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