Co-winners declared after National Spelling Bee faceoff
By Ian Simpson
OXON HILL Md. (Reuters) - A tense championship faceoff at the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in a tie on Thursday, with co-winners declared for the first time in 52 years.
Sriram Hathwar, an eighth grader from Painted Post, New York, and Ansun Sujoe, a seventh grader from Fort Worth, Texas, battled head-to-head through six rounds before judges ruled the contest a tie.
"It was a surprise to me, I guess," Hathwar said of the tie after he and Sujoe raised the championship trophy before a cheering crowd in a hotel ballroom.
Hathwar and Sujoe were the last ones standing after third-place finisher Gokul Venkatachalam, a seventh grader from St. Louis, went out on "Kierkegaardian".
The spelling contest seemed over when Hathwar misspelled "corpsbruder", but Sujoe slipped on the next word, "antigropelos", and the faceoff was on.
The see-saw match before a primetime ESPN audience ended after Hathwar nailed "stichomythia". Pronouncer Jacques Bailly told Sujoe that if he spelled the next word correctly he and Hathwar would be co-winners.
Sujoe went to the microphone, Hathwar behind him. Bailly gave him "feuilleton", and the bow-tied Sujoe rolled his eyes to the ceiling. He slowly spelled it correctly, ending the 22nd round overall in the two-day Bee and the crowd erupted.
The two each will receive a $30,000 cash prize. The tie was the first since 1962 and only the fourth in the 87-year history of the Bee. Continued...