The Scripps National Spelling Bee did not end the way any other event in the 94-year spelling bee history. Scripps just couldn't come up with words difficult enough to spell to challenge the 8 remaining contestants.
Rishik Gandharsi. Erin Howard, Saketh Sundar, Shruthika Padhy, Sohum Sukhantankar, Abhijay Kodali, Christopher Serrao and, finally, Rohan Raja all became co-champions closing out the bee by spelling 47 consecutive words correctly. All eight received the full $50,000 in cash and a new, custom-designed trophy, ending the bee after midnight. Of course there have been co-champions in the past, but no years exceeding past three.
"We are closely connected to the difficulty level at the program, so we are quite aware of the rising level of competition. This does not actually surprise us at all," said Paige Kimble, the bee's executive director. "We didn't go into the competition tonight not knowing that this was a possibility and not having a plan."
"Champion spellers, we are now in uncharted territory," pronouncer Jaques Bailly said. "We do have plenty of words remaining on our list. But we will soon run out of words that will possibly challenge you, the most phenomenal collection of super spellers in the history of this competition."
"I feel like there was no better way to do it," said Saketh, who's also 13 and lives in Clarksville, Maryland. "I don't know if I would've won if they kept going. I was super tired because it was like 12:00, and I was exhausted."
Thankfully the competition was able to end and we were able to get eight co-winners instead of keeping the competition going through the night.