Harini Logan is the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion, but it didn't come easy.
For the first time, the Spelling Bee came down to a spell-off, with both Logan and Vikram Raju being given 90 seconds to spell as many words correctly as possible.
When the dust settled, Logan had correctly spelled 21 words correctly, besting Raju and earning her the win. Raju got 15 words correct.
Ben Zimmer @bgzimmer
Congrats to Harini Logan, 2022 <a href="https://twitter.com/ScrippsBee?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ScrippsBee</a> champ, and winner of the first-ever sudden-death spelloff! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/spellingbee?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#spellingbee</a> <a href="https://t.co/vYwJ0yYAbc">pic.twitter.com/vYwJ0yYAbc</a>
After a year of anticipation, we have finally crowned our 2022 <a href="https://twitter.com/ScrippsBee?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ScrippsBee</a> Champion, Harini Logan! After 19 rounds, Harini spelled 21 words correctly in the first-ever spell-off to claim the title! 🥳<br>Help us congratulate her below!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SpellingBee?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SpellingBee</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BeeAChampION?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BeeAChampION</a> <a href="https://t.co/nw86VNACGF">pic.twitter.com/nw86VNACGF</a>
Logan had Raju on the ropes several times after he failed to correctly spell a word in his final four rounds, but she couldn't get two words correct in a row to clinch the championship.
That led to the dramatic spell-off, where the composed Logan sealed the deal.
"It is my fourth time at the bee, and this is just such a dream—and, well, I am just overwhelmed,” Logan said after her victory.
Logan, 14, is an eighth-grader from San Antonio, while Raju is a 12-year-old seventh-grader from Denver. Raju said he would return for next year's event.
Logan's victory nearly didn't happen after she heard the dreaded bell during the word-meaning round for her answer on "pullulation." But after consulting among themselves, the judges ruled that her answer was acceptable since the word could mean "to breed" or "to swarm."
She made the most of her opportunity, claiming the $50,000 cash prize.
Five of the 13 finalists were eliminated in the first round, while another four bowed out in the word-meaning round, where competitors are asked to pick the correct definition out of three options for a given word rather than spelling it.