National Spelling Bee Ends in Tie: Vanya Shivashankar, 13, and Gokul Venkatachalam, 14, Crowned Co-Winners

Scripps National Spelling Bee
The Scripps National Spelling Bee crowned two winners as co-champions on Thursday, May 28. 

Here's the buzz! The Scripps National Spelling Bee crowned two winners as co-champions on Thursday, May 28.

Eleven million-plus spellers competed in regional rounds of the competition to make it to the nationals beginning Tuesday, May 26. Gokul Venkatachalam, 14, of Chesterfield, Mo., and Vanya Shivashankar, 13, of Olathe, Kan., battled round after round for a grueling three days, edging out the 283 other contestants vying for the title.

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By the 11th round, the two teens were the last ones standing.

Shivashankar's words included "thamakau" and "hippocrepiform." Venkatachalam, meanwhile, was asked to spell out difficult words like "sprachgefühl," "pipsissewa," and "pyrrhuloxia."

They then faced off against each other, round after round, into the 20th and final leg.

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Shivashankar's winning word was "scherenschnitte," while Venkatachalam's was "nunatak."

Each winner took home a giant trophy as well as $35,000 in prizes. Shivashankar's older sister, Kavya, won the spelling bee in 2009, making history as siblings have never previously been crowned champions of the spelling bee. She told USA Today that she wanted to dedicate her win to their grandmother, who passed away in 2013.

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"All she really wanted was her grandkids to do so well and I hope I make her happy with this," she told the paper.

Her co-champion was equally proud of his work. "I saw the past two champions, and I wanted the do the same and I wanted to get the same," Venkatachalam told USA Today. "I just put in the work."

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This is the second consecutive year two winners were crowned.

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