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Scripps National Spelling Bee: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

scripps national spelling be

Students Compete In Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee 2014. (Getty)

The 87th final of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is taking place tonight in National Harbor, Maryland, just south of the nation’s capital where kids from across the country will be spelling words we have never heard of. Dr. Jacques Bailly, 1980 Scripps Spelling Bee Champion is the official pronouncer of the Bee this year. Click here to watch the live stream on ESPN from 8-10 pm Eastern.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is the biggest and longest-running educational promotion in the United States, originating in 1925, and run on a not-for-profit basis by The E.W. Scripps Company and local spelling bee sponsors. The competition is administered all around the the world including all of the Department of Defense Schools in Europe, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, South Korea, Japan, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, The U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa.

Read more to find out about the competitors, rules, prizes and more.


1. There are 12 Finalists

Scripps National Spelling Bee

The final 12 students will come back tonight to compete for the championship. (Getty

Out of the 31 Semifinalists that got through the 6th round, 12 were chosen to return tonight for the Championship Final. The 12 were chosen based on a vocabulary test taken prior to the competition in order to narrow it down because if not, the competition would take to long to complete.

Here is the list of Finalists:

Neha Konakalla- 8th Grade
Jacob Williamson- 8th Grade
Mary Horton- 8th Grade
Alia Abiad- 8th Grade
Tajaun Gibbison- 8th Grade
Gokul Venkatachalam- 7th Grade
Sriram Hathwar (5 time repeater)- 8th Grade
Ashwin Veeramani- 8th Grade
Kate Miller- 8th Grade
Ansun Sujoe- 7th Grade
Samuel Pereles- 7th Grade
Tejas Muthusamy- 5th Grade

Click here for the competitors’ full profiles.


2. There’s a $30,000 Cash Prize

scripps national spelling bee 2013 champion

Arvind V. Mahankali sits with his trophy after winning the championship round at the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee. (Getty)

The champion will take home a $30,000 cash prize from Scripps along with a Scripps National Spelling Bee engraved trophy and medal, along with $2,500 in U.S. savings bond and a complete reference library courtesy of Merriam-Webster. Encyclopedia Brittanica awards the winner $1,200 of reference works consisting of a 3-year membership to Britannica Online Premium and Britannica World Atlas, the Britannica Global Edition and the 1768 Encyclopædia Britannica Replica Set Deluxe Edition.

The school and sponsor of the Champion receives a 1-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 Home and a 20 gigabyte OneDrive online storage for each student in the school.

Those who lose in the first round of the Championship Finals up to 7th place receive $1,500. From there, top 6 are awarded:

6th Place: $2,000
5th Place: $2,500
4th Place: $3,000
3rd Place: $7,500
2nd Place: $12,500

All Semifinalists get a $500 gift card and a medal from the Scripps National Spelling Bee and the rest of the participants receive prizes from Merriam Webster, Mr. Jay Sugarman and packages form Microsoft.

Click here to see a list of the Past Winners and Their Words.

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3. They Aren’t Even in High School

Vanya Shivashankar spells a words at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. (Getty)

Vanya Shivashankar spells a words at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. (Getty)

This year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee began with 281 spellers, the youngest at the age of 8 and the oldest at 15. Over 86 percent of the competitors are between the ages of 12 and 14, 51 percent of them girls and the other 49 percent boys. In this group of young brainiacs 138 of the 281 kids can speak more than one language, but the majority favor math as a favorite subject.

Here are the age and grade ranges of the participants:

Age Range

1 eight-year-old (0.4%) 55 twelve-year-olds (19.6%)
3 nine-year-olds (1.1%)
98 thirteen-year-olds (34.9%)
7 ten-year-olds (2.5%) 90 fourteen-year-olds (32.0%)
26 eleven-year-olds (9.3%) 1 fifteen-year-old (0.4%)
This year’s age statistics are typical of previous years’ age statistics.

Grade Range

1 second grader (0.4%)
41 sixth graders (14.6%)
1 third grader (0.4%)
84 seventh graders (29.9%)
2 fourth graders (0.7%) 134 eighth graders (47.7%)
18 fifth graders (6.4%)

(This year’s grade statistics are normal compared to those in the previous years.)

The historical competition is known to have family ties with each year’s group having a sibling or family member who has participated in the past. Spellers Vanya Shivashankar and Ashwin Veeramani both have siblings who have won the Scripps National Spelling Bee.


4. Here Are the Contest Rules

Scripps National Spelling Bee

Jonathan Caldwellreacts during the semifinal round at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. (Getty)

There are particular formats for the Preliminary, Semifinals and Championship Rounds. Three main rules for eligibility are that the speller must not previously have been declared champion of the Bee, they must attend a school approved by the Bee, and the participants can not have passed 8th grade before February 1 (2014).

Click here for the full list of rules and format for each round.


5. The Past 6 Winners have been Indian-Americans

Scripps National Spelling Bee

A student competes In the Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee. (Getty)

Many of the competitors are of Indian-American heritage. Last year’s winner, Arvind Mahankali, was the 6th consecutive Indian-American to win the competition. He was also the first boy to win since 2008.

Click here for the profiles of each contestant.

Arvind Mahankali, National Spelling Bee Winner: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Arvind Mahankali, 13, has been announced as the winner of the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Click here to read more

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