Has A Scripps National Spelling Bee Tie Happened Before? Yes, But Not For 52 Years
After running out of words in the dictionary — yes, really — the Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in a tie Thursday night. It was a historic moment, and not because someone actually spelled the word "stichomythia" correctly: This is the first time the spelling bee ended in a tie in more than 50 years. The winners, 14-year-old Sriram Hathwar and 13-year-old Ansun Sujoe, beat out 281 spellers from eight countries for the top prize. Impressive, right?
The annual spelling bee, which kicked off Tuesday night in Washington, D.C., was established in 1925 and later acquired by the E.W. Scripps Company. Except for three years during World War II, has been awarding great young spellers every year. But in its long history, there's only been a few times where two contestants were crowned winners. The first time was in 1950, when Diana Reynard and Colquitt Dean both correctly spelled "meticulosity." 1957 also saw two winners.
In 1962, the spelling bee ended in a tie when Nettie Crawford and Michael Day both spelled "esquamulose." It would be the last time there was a tie until Thursday night's finals — 52 years later. To seal their places in history, Hathwar correctly spelled "feuilleton," while Sujoe got "stichomythia" right.
"It feels pretty good because not only do I get the victory, but I get to share it with someone else, so it means a lot to me," Sujoe told CNN.
So, how can the Scripps National Spelling Bee end in a tie? According to the contest's rules, once the bee is down to two or three contestants, they move onto the championship round with a special 25-word list. The pronouncers go through the entire list until a winner emerges. If the final contestants correctly spell each of their given words, then they are declared co-champions.
What would've happened if both Sujoe and Hathwar missed a word? According to the rules, they would've remained in the competition and started a new round. Fortunately, that didn't happen because Sujoe and Hathwar are just that good.
Although they have to share the champion title, both winners receive a trophy and the prize money — $30,000 cash and a $2,500 U.S. savings bond. And of course they receive a full set of Encyclopaedia Britannica — not that these two winners would be needing it.