Credit: People Magazine

The spelling championship circuit in America is buzzing with excitement. The annual Scripps National Spelling Bee had not one, not two, but eight joint winners! There have been co-winners before, but this was an astounding result. The winners, aged 12 to 14 years, went through 20 gruelling rounds before the organisers declared it a tie as they were literally speechless, and had run out of tough words for the kids to spell! The winners, Rishik Gandhasri, Erin Howard, Abhijay Kodali, Saketh Sundar, Shruthika Padhy, Rohan Raja, Christopher Serrao and Sohum Sukhatankar, were elated but exhausted because it was almost midnight when they finished!

The Scripps National Spelling Bee began in 1925 and has been held every year since, except for three years, 1943-45, during the Second World War.

This year’s contest was held in Maryland, and 567 children under-15  took part in the competition. Round by round, they were eliminated till the last eight remained standing hours later. “These spellers have conquered the dictionary unequivocally with their ability, skill and command of the English language. It’s an incredible achievement, and we salute all the years of hard work and dedicated study that brought these intelligent young people to the world stage. We congratulate them all”, said Adam Symson, president and CEO of The E.W. Scripps Company, the sponsor of the competition.  Interestingly this is the twelfth year that a competitor of Indian origin has won the prize – and six of this year’s eight winners were of Indian descent too!

Each of them will now receive  $50,000, their own Scripps Cup, a $2,500 cash prize, a complete reference library from Merriam Webster and a three-year online membership from Encyclopædia Britannica. What might be more fun for the kids though is that they will have guest appearances on national shows like ‘Good Morning America’, the ‘Today Show,’ and ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Written by: Pereena Lamba. Pereena is a freelance writer, editor and creative consultant. She is also co-author of Totally Mumbai.

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