Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe made history by becoming co-champions at the 87th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.
Twenty-two tense rounds of stress-inducing action came down to Hathwar and Sujoe, as they dueled through the toughest words the tournament had to throw at them before all puzzles were exhausted.
Their triumph was quite a rare event, as explained by the competition's Twitter account:
For the first time since 1962, we have #SpellingBee CO-CHAMPIONS!— NationalSpellingBee (@ScrippsBee) May 30, 2014
Despite the intimate final duel, Hathwar stressed after the fact the battle was not with each other, as captured by ESPN's Desmond Howard:
"The competition was against the dictionary not against each other." -Sriram (spelling bee co-champ)— Desmond Howard (@DesmondHoward) May 30, 2014
Here is a look at how the final 12 contestants finished:
|T1||Sriram Hathwar||14||New York||--||$30,000|
For their extensive efforts, Hathwar and Sujoe receive the following, via the prizes page of the tournament's website:
From Scripps, a $30,000 cash prize and the Scripps National Spelling Bee engraved trophy
From Merriam-Webster, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and a complete reference library
From Encyclopaedia Britannica, $1,200 of reference works including the Britannica Global Edition, 1768 Encyclopaedia Britannica Replica Set Deluxe Edition, 3-year membership to Britannica Online Premium and Britannica World Atlas
The day started with Round 7, highlighted by words such as osteochondrous—a word conquered by Kate Miller. Samuel Pereles was the first to bow out thanks to the word ecribellate, but was given quite the ovation, as captured by Natalie DiBlasio of USA Today:
DING! Oh no! The audience sighs sadly. First speller is OUT - Samuel Pereles gets a standing ovation as he walks off the stage. #SpellingBee— Natalie DiBlasio (@ndiblasio) May 30, 2014
After correctly spelling chrysochlorous in the seventh round, Neha Konakalla was the next contestant eliminated thanks to taglioni. Tajaun Gibbison bowed out shortly thereafter thanks to a short, but again tricky, word—chartula.
Miller was next to go thanks to exochorion, but provided plenty of laughs in her post-competition interview, as illustrated by MashableLIVE:
Kate Miller says she’s going to go home to Texas and watch every horror movie that she can get her hands on pic.twitter.com/w2BCFgpMYI— MashableLIVE (@MashableLive) May 30, 2014
The final elimination of the seventh round was Tejas Muthusamy for the word hallenkirche.
Round 9 passed without an elimination, but then 15-year-old favorite and electric personality Jacob Williamson was booted after confidently screaming "I know this!" before misspelling kabaragoya.
As expected, Williamson was quite colorful upon hearing the bell announce his elimination, per Mashable:
After the crowd recovered, Mary Horton was the next to exit the stage thanks to aetites, which makes sense when one ponders the obscurity of the word:
Alia Abiad followed right behind after struggling with irbis, which whittled the field to four:
Ashwin Veeramani then succumbed to dépaysé early in Round 12, which kicked off the final 25-word finale between three contestants, which would have seen them all tie had they made it through.
Kierkegaardian saw to it that Gokul Venkatachalam would not share that spotlight.
Then things got interesting.
Hathwar misspelled corpsbruder, a cute way of calling someone "buddy." But Sujoe quickly followed with a botch on antigropelos—waterproof leggings—meaning both were granted new life.
Things then took a brief detour down the weird road when Hathwar went back to the podium. Let's allow Fox 19's Joe Danneman to do the honors:
What. Just. Happened on the Spelling Bee? The moderator just said "Tabitha's milkshake brings all the boys to the yard...oh wait..." Haha.— Joe Danneman (@FOX19Joe) May 30, 2014
To be fair, Merriam-Webster's Peter Sokolowski confirmed there was no mistake:
(That milkshake sentence actually WAS written for this word, folks).— Peter Sokolowski (@PeterSokolowski) May 30, 2014
Alas, Hathwar plowed through the strange moment and hit on feijoada. Sujoe conquered the six-syllable augenphilologie.
Six successful spellings later, just four words remained as the two contestants entered Round 22. Hathwar stepped to the plate and knocked out stichomythia with three words left, meaning if Sujoe hit on feuilleton, the two would be declared co-champions.
Sujoe delivered, and the heartwarming event thus had a storybook ending for the two competitors.
Note: All info courtesy of Scripps National Spelling Bee unless otherwise noted.