SIX Indian-origin students are among the eight participants who won the prestigious Scripps National Spelling Bee, taking home more than $50,000 in cash and prizes, after defeating over 550 other contestants in an unprecedented competition in the US.
It is the first time in the 94-year history of the competition that more than two co-champions have been named.
Rishik Gandhasri, 13, of California; Saketh Sundar, 13, of Maryland; Shruthika Padhy, 13, of New Jersey; Sohum Sukhatankar, 13, of Texas; Abhijay Kodali, 12, of Texas; Rohan Raja, 13, of Texas; Christopher Serrao, 13, of New Jersey and Erin Howard, 14, of Alabama were named as co-champions, The Washington Post reported Friday.
Each will receive the full winner’s prize of $50,000 in cash.
The six boys and two girls combined to spell the final 47 words correctly over five consecutive perfect rounds.
The competition, broadcast nationally on ESPN, took place at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, Maryland. It kicked off Tuesday with its biggest field ever. The 565 contestants ranged in age from 7 to 14 and came from across the US and several other countries, including Canada, Ghana and Jamaica.
“Champion spellers, we are in uncharted territory,” official pronouncer Jacques Bailly said.
“We do have plenty of words remaining on our list, but we’ll soon run out of words that can possibly challenge you, the most phenomenal assemblage of super spellers in the history of this competition,” Bailly said.
The National Bee is a high-profile, high-pressure endurance test as much as a nerd spelling match and spellers spend months preparing for it.