Not since 1962 have there been co-winners of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The competition that puts to test some of the sharpest minds of the future emerged with co-winners this year, as Sriram Hathwar of Painted Post, New York, and Ansun Sujoe of Fort Worth, Texas, shared the title after an exciting final-round duel. Once they had both spelled a dozen words correctly in a row in the final round, both were announced champions.
Interestingly, both winners had misspelled a word in the same round, allowing both to continue in the competition. After Hathwar misspelled “corpsbruder,” Sujoe – who could have won right then and there – misspelled “antegropelos.”
Indians, rather persons of South Asian descent, have been well-represented at the competition for years now. The past eight winners, and 13 of the past 17 have been of Indian descent. This dominant era of Indian Spelling Bee winners began back in 1999 with Nupur Lala.
Both Hathwar and Sujoe returned to this year’s event after finishing in third place and missing the semifinals last year, respectively.
“The competition was against the dictionary, not against each other,” Hathwar said after being crowned co-champion. “I’m happy to share this trophy with him.”
India clearly dominated the competition as Indian-American kids were atop the leader-board even after Hathwar and Sujoe. Gokul Venkatachalam of Chesterfield, Missouri, finished third, and Ashwin Veeramani of North Royalton, Ohio, placed fourth.