Scripps national spelling bee ends in 8-way tie

2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee

The eight co-champions of the 2019 National Spelling Bee celebrate after an unprecedented final in Oxon Hill, Maryland. The 20-round final lasted more than five hours when the official pronouncer for the Bee announced that they were out of words that would challenge the remaining spellers. (Pete Marovich/UPI photo)

FORT WASHINGTON, Md. (UPI) — The dictionary was bested Thursday when eight spellers were named co-champions of the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee, the organization said.

The eight champions spelled their way through 20 rounds over Bee Week that began Monday, beating out 554 other contestants ranging in age from 7 to 15 throughout the United States and other territories for the coveted title of spelling bee champion.

The eight champions spelled the final 47 words correctly and went five perfect rounds.

At the 17th round, bee pronouncer Jacques Bailly told the final contestants that the competition was heading into “uncharted territory,” ESPN reported.

“We do have plenty of words remaining on our list,” he said. “But we will soon run out of words that will possibly challenge you, the most phenomenal collection of super spellers in the history of this competition,” Bailly said.

And three rounds later with not a word mispelled, the competition was called, and eight were crowned spelling bee champions:

  • Alabama: Erin Howard, 14 (spelled “erysipelas” correctly)
  • California: Rishik Gandhasri, 13 (spelled “auslaut” correctly)
  • Maryland: Saketh Sundar, 13 (spelled “bougainvillea” correctly)
  • New Jersey: Shruthika Padhy, 13 (spelled “aiguillette” correctly); Christopher Serrao, 13 (spelled “cernuous” correctly)
  • Texas: Sohum Sukatankar, 13 (spelled “pendeloque” correctly); Abhijay Kodali, 12 (spelled “palama” correctly); Rohana Raja, 13 (spelled “odylic” correctly)

Each winner will receive a cash prize of $50,000, the organization said.

“After 20 rounds of intensive, record-breaking competition, they’re all going home as winners,” Scripps National Spelling Bee said on Twitter.

Bee Week began Monday with contestants completing a preliminary multiple-choice test with Round Two falling on Tuesday that saw the number of contestants fall to 518 before the final 50 spellers emerged from the pack.

The 50 final spellers were determined by earning at least 30 points of a maximum 36 by taking a written test and correctly spelling words on stages.

Those 50 were whittled down to 16 contestants, who, on Thursday, battled it out over several hours to end at the eight co-champions.

Reporting by Darryl Coote

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