OXON HILL, Md. (AP) – The Latest on the National Spelling Bee (all times local):
Eight spellers were better than the dictionary. They were better than anything the Scripps National Spelling Bee could throw at them. And they all ended up with a hand on the trophy.
In the most extraordinary ending in the 94-year history of the competition, the bee ended in an eight-way tie on Thursday night. The eight co-champions spelled the final 47 words correctly, going through five consecutive perfect rounds.
Each will get the full winner’s prize of $50,000 in cash.
They are: Rishik Gandhasri, Erin Howard, Saketh Sundar, Shruthika Padhy, Sohum Sukhatankar, Abhijay Kodali, Christopher Serrao and Rohan Raja.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee is running out of words.
With eight spellers remaining after three hours of spelling in the prime-time finals, pronouncer Jacques Bailly told the remaining spellers that Scripps only had enough words left to challenge them for three more rounds.
Anyone who gets through the remaining three rounds will be declared a co-champion. The bee has never had more than a two-way tie for the title in its history.
Bee executive director Paige Kimble said bee organizers discussed this contingency plan for ending the competition earlier Thursday after it took 5½ hours to narrow the field from 50 spellers to 16.
Sixteen spellers have advanced to the prime-time finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee after a marathon session that lasted nearly 5½ hours.
Two spellers made the prime-time finals for the third time: 14-year-old Erin Howard of Huntsville, Alabama and 13-year-old Shruthika Padhy of Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
The winner will receive more than $50,000 in cash and prizes and a new, custom-designed trophy.
Other returning finalists are 12-year-old Abhijay Kodali of Flower Mound, Texas, who finished third last year; 13-year-old Navneeth Murali of Edison, New Jersey; 13-year-old Aisha Randhawa of Corona, California; 13-year-old Rohan Raja of Irving, Texas; and 13-year-old Simone Kaplan of Davie, Florida.