Spelling stars win $50k each as organisers run out of tricky words

Eight spelling boffins have been crowned co-champions in the US after none made a mistake and organisers started to run out of difficult words.

The national spelling bee competition is an institution in America and has been going for 94 years, but this year’s showdown was the most extraordinary.

Scroll to the bottom for some of the words they were up against.

Saketh Sundar, 13, feels the tension during the final round
Image: Saketh Sundar feels the tension during the final round
Erin Howard, 14, reacts to hearing her final word in the final round
Image: Erin Howard reacts to hearing her final word in the final round

“Champion spellers, we are now in uncharted territory,” Jacques Bailly told them in announcing the decision to give all of them the title and $50,000 (£39,600) each.

“We do have plenty of words remaining on our list,” said Mr Bailly.

“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.”

Dozens of words rattled by in the tense finale, but the six boys and two girls – aged 12 to 14 – did not put a single letter wrong.

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The winner will each get the $50,000 first prize
Image: The winners were the last standing from more than 500 competitors
Rishik Gandhasri celebrates the historic victory
Image: Rishik Gandhasri celebrates the historic victory

“We’re throwing the dictionary at you, and, so far, you are showing the dictionary who’s boss,” said Mr Bailly, after 18 error-free rounds.

The three-day Scripps National Spelling Bee had started with 562 competitors, but organisers called a halt as the final eight went through 47 words without error.

They celebrated in a shower of ticker tape and the unprecedented decision was made to give each of them the full $50,000 prize.

The champions are: Rishik Gandhasri, Erin Howard, Saketh Sundar, Shruthika Padhy, Sohum Sukhatankar, Abhijay Kodali, Christopher Serrao and Rohan Raja.

Dictionary-maker Merriam-Webster conceded that it had “lost” but tweeted that it was “SO. PROUD.”

The final eight said they were 'octo-champs'
Image: The final eight said they were ‘octo-champs’ and each get the $50,000 first prize

:: A few of the words the winners took on in the final rounds:

Omphalopsychite: One who stares fixedly at his navel to induce a mystical trance

Pendeloque: A gem, especially a diamond, cut in the shape of a drop and used as a pendant

Mondegreen: A misunderstood or misinterpreted word or phrase resulting from a mishearing of the lyrics of a song

Bougainvillea: An ornamental shrubby climbing plant that is widely cultivated in the tropics

Auslaut: Final sound in a word or syllable

Logudorese: The dialect of Sardinian spoken in the Logudoro district

Erysipelas: An acute, sometimes recurrent disease caused by a bacterial infection, characterised by large raised red patches on the skin

Paralipomena: Things omitted from a work and added as a supplement

Limitrophe: A borderland; an immediately neighbouring country

Sphaeriid: Mollusc of the family Sphaeriidae

Source: SKY NEWS

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