This time, they out-spelled the spelling bee. For the first time since 1962, two students were declared co-champions of the Scripps National Spelling Bee after they exhausted the official word list before either could prevail.
At the end of a grueling 21-round final, the golden trophy was hoisted by 14-year-old Sriram Hathwar, competing in his fifth national bee, and 13-year-old Ansun Sujoe, making his second trip to the nation’s biggest spell-off.
“The competition was against the dictionary, not each other,” said a weary-but-wired Sriram, of Painted Post, N.Y., who had made the finals in two previous national bees and had declared his determination to win this one. He had to beat his brother in a regional bee to advance to annual championship at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Prince George’s County.