According to CNN on Thursday, the Scripps National Spelling Bee had two winners for the first time in 52 years. Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe correctly spelled so many words Thursday that the Scripps National Spelling Bee had to declare them both winners because they ran out of words. There just weren't enough words left on the competition's list for the competition to continue. The last time this happened was in 1962 when the bee ended with co-champions instead of just one. Organizers say ties also ended the spelling bee in 1950 and 1957. Now 2014 is added to the list of years with a tie.
When the spelling bee started last Tuesday, there were 281 spellers from eight countries who were competing for the title. When the bee ended on Thursday night, there were just two standing; both from the United States. President Obama tweeted his congratulations: "Congrats to Ansun and Sriram, the incredible co-champs of the #ScrippsNationalSpellingBee. You make us all proud! -bo"
In the final round, Hathwar, a 14-year-old eighth-grader from Painted Post, New York, correctly spelled the word "stichomythia" that means dialogue especially of altercation delivered by two actors. He placed third in last year's competition, and first made it to the National Spelling Bee as a second-grader in 2008. He was a favorite to win this year's contest, and he did.
Sujoe, a 13-year-old seventh-grader from Fort Worth, Texas, correctly spelled the word "feuilleton" that means part of a European newspaper. Sujoe told ESPN that he got hooked on the bee by watching it on television. In addition to spelling, he has perfect pitch and plays piano, bassoon and guitar. He said, "I was pretty happy when I made the finals, and now I'm even happier that I'm a co-champion. I think we both know that the competition was against the dictionary, not against each other. I am happy to share this trophy with him."
Organizers confirmed that the youngest competitor this year was 8 years old, and the oldest was 15 years old. Even though only two walked away being champions, others were excited about their own achievement and said what they would do to become a champion next year. For instance, Tejas Muthusamy, 11, said after misspelling "hallenkirche" that he would return home ready to change his studying routine for future competitions. Eighth grader Kate Miller, who was eliminated from the finals when she misspelled the world "exochorion," said there's a lot she'll be bringing back to Abilene, Texas.
Every speller in the competition receives something. The winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee receives a $30,000 cash prize and an engraved loving cup trophy from Scripps, a $2,500 savings bond, a reference library from Merriam-Webster, $2,600 in reference works and a lifetime membership to Britannica Online Premium from Encyclopædia Britannica, $5,000 cash prize from the Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation, and an online course and a Nook eReader from K12 Inc.
All other spellers receive Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged on CD-ROM from Merriam-Webster, the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, which is a $100 U.S. Savings Bond, and a cash prize from Scripps. The cash prizes are determined based on the round in which the speller is eliminated. They range from $100 for a speller eliminated before the Quarterfinals to $12,500 for the second-place winner. This year, the $100 cash prize for all spellers eliminated before the Semifinals was replaced with educational tools from Microsoft.