National Spelling Bee Ends in Tie For Second Year in a Row
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., May 29 (UPI) — For the second consecutive year, the Scripps National Spelling Bee crowned co-champions Thursday.
Vanya Shivashankar, 13, of Olathe, Kansas, and Gokul Venkatachalam, 14, of Chesterfield, Mo., were the finalists — and organizers weren’t able to throw either of them a word they couldn’t handle.
After a while, officials declared them both winners. Before 2014, the last time that had happened was in 1962.
Shivashankar and Venkatachalam will each receive an engraved trophy, $35,000 and a $2,500 U.S. savings bond.
Thursday evening’s final began with 10 spellers. By the 11th round, there were only two left. Into the 20th round, neither of them had faulted.
Perhaps that’s because both winners have several years of experience at the Spelling Bee. It was Vanya’s fifth year and Gokul’s fourth.
For Vanya, it also ran in her family — her sister Kavya won the 2009 bee. Thursday’s contest marked the first time in the bee’s history that the sibling of a past champion won the event.
Squaring off against each other, the two finalists successfully rattled off correct spellings of numerous difficult words — such as “thamakau,” “hippocrepiform,” “scherenschnitte,” “sprachgefühl,” “pipsissewa,” and “pyrrhuloxia,” USA Today reported.
When judges finally ran out of words, they crowned both as champions.
About 11 million children across the country entered the contest to determine the 283 who made it to the bee, which began Tuesday.
“This is a dream come true,” Shivashankar, who dedicated her victory to her late grandmother, said. “I’ve wanted this for such a long time. I hope I make her happy with this.”
“I wasn’t nervous at all,” Venkatachalam said. “It was the culmination of all the hard work of the past six years. I’m finally happy to have success.”