Indian-Americans win Spelling Bee, create history
Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe won the 87th Spelling Bee on Thursday making history as the first Indian Americans to win the contest jointly, a first for the championship since 1962.
Hathwar, a five time veteran of the championship came as a favourite, but Sujoe, a first timer surprised everyone with a dazzling performance, forcing a draw.
“The contest was against the dictionary and not against each other,” said Hathwar, 14, of the last few rounds of the contest, when he had only Sujoe, 13, to compete against.
A tie such as this is rare, and happens only when the Spelling Bee pronouncer runs out of words pre-selected for the contest — and it came to that Thursday night.
The co-champions in 1962, the first time ever, were, said Spelling Bee organizers, Nettie Crawford from El Paso, Texas and Michael Day of St. Louis, Missouri.
On Thursday, the Indian American boys set another record.
Sujoe correctly spelled “feuilleton”, which means “a part of a European newspaper or magazine devoted to material designed to entertain the general reader,” to tie Hathwar.
The Bee, which is open to students of up to the eighth grade, was won Thursday by Indian Americans for the seventh consecutive years so far.
Indian Americans have dominated this and other such contests including the Geographic Bee winning them repeatedly making many wonder if they will ever give up.
Four of the last five finalists on the stage on Thursday were Indian Americans. And then there were just four of them, when Mary Horton, 13, spelt “aetites” wrong.
One of the remaining four was Ashwini Veermani, 14-year-old an eighth grader from Ohio who was just a few words away from history — to make it a double for the family.
His sister Anamika Veermani won the championship in 2010.
Another star of the night was Tejas Muthuswamy, a 11-year-old from Virginia, the youngest in the last 10. Every round thereafter was a bonus from him, he told an interviewer.