Some people might not consider the Scripps National Spelling Bee to be much of a sport, but, guys, it's seriously intense. (Plus, it aired on ESPN, so there's that confirmation.) Throughout the past few days, 281 spellers have given it their all to become the one and only 2014 Spelling Bee Champion. They've gone through Tuesday's computer-based test, Wednesday's preliminary rounds, another set of computer-based tests, semifinals, and finally, Thursday's semifinals and championship finals. Yeah, that's a lot of high-stakes spelling. (Meanwhile, I can't even handle when my computer's spell-check isn't working.)
So, after days/weeks/months/years of preparation — definitely not sure how committed each speller is — the 2014 winner of the National Spelling Bee is... TWO PEOPLE. Wait, what? Yeah, that's right — two spellers just became the first co-champions since 1962. And man, oh, man did they deserve it. After going back and forth (and then back again), both Ansun Sujoe, a 13-year-old boy from Texas, and Sriram Hathwar, a 14-year-old boy from New York, nabbed a spot in the winner's circle by correctly spelling "feuilleton" and "stichomythia," respectively, once the championship words ran out. (That's right... the Bee simply ran out of words, forcing a tie, the first since 1962.)
And although the eternal-spelling glory might be the best part of winning the competition, something tells me that both boys won't mind the cash money that's going to be flowing in. They both will be taking home $30,000 and the Scripps National Spelling Bee engraved trophy from Scripps, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and a complete reference library from Merriam-Webster (a grandma is clapping somewhere out there in the world), and $1,200 worth of reference works from Encyclopaedia Britannica. (Although, it's my belief that they don't need another reference book because they totally owned this competition.)
But don't feel bad for the other finalists (even though they're all probably one big ball of anxiety-ridden emotions right now), because they're not going home empty-handed. 3rd Place through 7th Place will still take home a lot of money — we're talking about thousands of dollars each — and the semifinalists will each take home a $500 gift card. However, the rest of spellers who competed in this year's event will take home a copy of Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged (way to rub it in, Merriam-Webster).
So what's going to happen to them now that they have basically achieved every speller's dream? I like to imagine that they'll spend the rest of their lives on some beach drinking out of coconuts and pineapples, but something tells me that they're going to go right back to the books and, you know, make something of themselves in the world of academia. For now, let's take a look at a few of the other names Ansun and Sriram will be joining in the Spelling Bee Hall of Fame (and what their winning words were):
2013 - Arvind Mahankali
Winning Word - knaidel
Definition - "a small mass of leavened dough."
2012 - Snigdha Nandipati
Winning Word - guetapens
Definition - "ambush or trap."
2011 - Sukanya Roy
Winning Word - cymotrichous
Definition - "having wavy hair."
2015 Spellers — may the odds be ever in your favor.