Eight spellers were better than the dictionary. They were better than anything the Scripps National Spelling Bee could throw at them. And they all ended up with a hand on the trophy.
After a marathon session stretching into early Friday, each winner will receive a $50,000 prize and a trophy in the three-day event that started with 562 word whizzes from across the nation, U.S. territories and six other countries.
In the most extraordinary ending in the 94-year history of the competition, the bee ended in an eight-way tie on Thursday night. The eight co-champions spelled the final 47 words correctly, going through five consecutive perfect rounds.
Officials say that while there have been co-champions in the past, there have never been eight.
"We’re throwing the dictionary at you, and, so far, you are showing the dictionary who’s boss," the bee’s pronouncer, Jacques Bailly, told the eight still remaining after 18 rounds of competition.
The six boys and two girls range in age from 12 to 14 and hail from six states: Alabama, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas.
They are: Rishik Gandhasri, Erin Howard, Saketh Sundar, Shruthika Padhy, Sohum Sukhatankar, Abhijay Kodali, Christopher Serrao and Rojan Raja.