They’re the bee’s knees! For the third year in a row, The Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in a tie. Nihar Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas, and Jairam Hathwar, 13, of Corning, New York, were named co-champions on Thursday night, May 26, after 39 rounds of putting their spelling skills to the test.
“It was just insane,” Hathwar said as he held the coveted golden winner’s cup. Janga almost couldn’t believe his victory. “I’m just speechless,” he said. “I’m only in the fifth grade.”
Their winning words? Hathwar expertly spelled “Feldenkrais,” a somatic educational system, while Janga won with “gesellschaft,” which refers to social relations based on impersonal ties.
The bee kicked off on Tuesday, May 24, with 284 contestants vying to be the best speller. Following a written test and two intense rounds of onstage spelling, only 45 kids remained in the running. Finally, it came down to Jairam and Nihar.
The two boys were neck and neck throughout the finals, which aired on ESPN. Hathwar almost fell out of the competition twice when he misspelled the words "drahthaar,” a breed of dog, and “mischsprache,” a language. However, he stayed in the game thanks to Janga’s flubbing in subsequent rounds.
The word enthusiasts will take home $40,000 in cash each, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond, $400 of reference works including a 1768 Encyclopædia Britannica Replica Set (Deluxe Edition) and a three-year membership to Britannica Online Premium, plus a trip to New York City to appear on Live with Kelly.
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