They broke the dictionary!
For the first time in its 92-year history, the Scripps National Spelling Bee crowned eight contestants after the competition acknowledged it was running out of challenging words.
The stunning determination, which came shortly after midnight Thursday at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at Maryland’s National Harbor in Oxon Hill, was announced after the 17th round when word presenter Jacques Bailly declared that any of the eight remaining contestants who made it through three more words would share in the grand prize.
However, while the competition normally offers a $50,000 prize to the top speller, this time instead of splitting the cash eight ways, each of the co-champions will receive $50,000 and their own trophy.
The bee, which this year started out with 565 contestants, has previously had six two-way ties, but has never experienced such a deadlock at the top.
Many of the words that were spelled have never been heard of by most people, and as the competition neared its end, the co-champs appeared unfazed by the pressure to stay in the game.
“We do have plenty of words remaining in our list, but we’ll soon run out of words that will challenge you,” Bailly said. “We’re throwing the dictionary at you. And so far, you are showing this dictionary who is boss.”
The bee was finally over after it went 20 rounds, including a run of 47 correctly spelled words.
The winners, along with the final words they spelled, are:
Rishik Gandhasri, 13, San Jose, Calif. — auslaut
Erin Howard, 14, Huntsville, Ala. — erysipelas
Saketh Sundar, 13, Clarksville, Md. — bougainvillea
Shruthika Padhy, 13, Cherry Hill, N.J. — aiguillette
Sohum Sukhatankar, 13, Dallas — pendeloque
Abhijay Kodali, 12, Flower Mound, Texas — palama
Christopher Serrao, 13, Whitehouse Station, N.J. — cernuous
Rohan Raja, 13, Irving, Texas — odylic