Eight kids just broke the 2019 National Spelling Bee in unprecedented result

The 2019 National Spelling Bee produced not one but eight co-champions.
The 2019 National Spelling Bee produced not one but eight co-champions.

Image: Alex Wong/Getty Images

In an incredible finale, 2019 National Spelling Bee ended with not one but eight co-champions.

At the end of the 17th round, three hours into the Scripps-sponsored competition, longtime announcer Jacques Bailly made a startling declaration: All remaining spellers at end of the final’s 20th round would be named a co-champion.

“We are now in uncharted territory. We do have plenty of words remaining on our list, but we’ll soon run out of words that could possibly challenge you,” Bailly said. “We’re throwing the dictionary at you, and you’re showing the dictionary who’s boss.”

It became a three-round playoff against the eight remaining spellers, who would each take home a $50,000 prize if they survived at the end of the final, which took place on Thursday.

In the final round, words like bougainvillea, aiuguilette, erysipelas, and pendeloque sought to topple any surviving competitors.

But one-by-one, each competitor successfully spelt their way to victory, with the competition finishing just after midnight local time when Rohan Raja spelt the final word, odylic. 

Raja, alongside Rishik Gandhasri, Erin Howard, Saketh Sundar, Shruthika Padhy, Sohum Sukhatankar, Abhijay Kodali, and Christopher Serrao were named co-champions, who each take home $50,000, as well as a Scripps Cup trophy. 

The competition, which had 11 million participants from the ages of 8 to 15, were whittled down to 16 spellers in the final.  

2019 marked the 92nd edition of the competition, which first began in 1925. There’s a good chance, however, you won’t see anything like this ever again.

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