Unprecedented: 8 co-champions named at National Spelling Bee 

Published: Friday, May 31, 2019 @ 1:17 AM

8 Co-Champions Named at National Spelling Bee

The results at the Scripps National Spelling Bee had observers buzzing Thursday night.

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For the first time in the 94-year history of the competition, eight co-champions were named. The eight spelling experts, weeded out from an overall field of 562, weathered 20 rounds of finals. Previously, only two spellers had been declared co-champions -- in 1950, 1957 and 1962.

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At 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Jacques Bailly, the Bee’s official pronouncer, told the spellers and a national ESPN2 audience the competition was “in uncharted territory,” The Washington Post reported. Bailly said if no single winner emerged after 20 rounds, all the remaining competitors would be named co-champions, the newspaper reported.

The winners are Rishik Gandhasri, 13, of San Jose, California; Erin Howard, 14, of Huntsville, Alabama; Saketh Sundar, 13, of Clarksville, Maryland; Shruthika Padhy, 13, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey; Sohum Sukhatankar, 13, of Dallas; Abhijay Kodali, 12, of Flower Mound, Texas; Christopher Serrao, 13, of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey; and Rohan Raja, 13, of Irving, Texas.

Each speller won a Scripps Cup and a $50,000 cash prize from Scripps, ESPN reported.


Here is the breakdown of the word each speller got right in the 20th and final round, according to ESPN:

  • Gandhasri: Auslaut;

  • Howard: Erysipelas;

  • Sundar: Bougainvillea;

  • Padhy: Aiguillette;

  • Sukhatankar: Pendeloque;

  • Kodali: Palama;

  • Serrao: Cernuous;

  • Raja: Odylic

Gandhasri: Auslaut; Howard: Eerysipelas; Sundar: Bougainvillea; Padhy: Aiguillette; Sukhatankar: Pendeloque; Kodali: Palama; Serrao: Cernuous; and Raja: Odylic

Spellers in the night finals were 121-for-129, ESPN reported.

Competitors were drawn from all 50 U.S. states, several territories and countries including the Bahamas, Canada, Germany, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea  

The competition began in 1925, organized by the Louisville Courier-Journal. The E.W. Scripps Company landed the rights to the competition in 1941. The competition has been held annually, except from 1943 to 1945 because of World War II.