The spelling bee world has a new pair of champions after Thursday’s night’s tense championship face-off.
After battling through six head-to-head rounds, it was up to 13-year-old Ansun Sujoe to spell “feuilleton” correctly to be declared co-winner, along with 14-year-old Sriram Hathwar, of the 87th Scripps National Bee, a task he completed without breaking a sweat.
“I was kind of confident about the word, sort of,” Ansun told Tamron Hall as she spoke to the two champs from the Orange Room on TODAY Friday. “I was pretty happy that I got an easy word, so I spelled it to the best of my ability, and I was pretty happy.”
“I think we both knew that the competition was against the dictionary, not eachother,” Hathwar said after the competition. “I’m happy to share this trophy with him.”
By nailing a word that would leave most people puzzled, Sujoe tied Hathwar because the brilliant duo exhausted the judges’ 25-word championship word list after they beat out the 279 other contestant before the head-to-head battle began. According to the Spelling Bee contest rules when two or three finalists remain they will face each other in a head-to-head battle and when the 25-word list runs out, co-champions will be declared.
This tie marks the first time since 1962 and the fourth time- in the 87-year Spelling Bee history -a tie was called. Both Sujoe and Hathwar will receive the full winner’s allotment of $30,000 cash prize, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond, a complete reference library from Merriam-Webster, and $1,200 worth of reference works from Encyclopedia Britannica. Both they both also got another special treat: High praise from the Commander in Chief.