Two teenage boys became co-champions of the grueling Scripps National Spelling Bee late last night, each tripping up on difficult words back-to-back before continuing in a flawless duel, spelling in a manner only spelling champions can. They are the first co-winners since 1962, and the fourth since the competition began in 1925.
New York native Sriram Hathwar, 14, and Texan Ansun Sujoe, 13, shared the spotlight with admirably sportsmanship. Sriram, a Spelling Bee veteran, mused that "The competition was against the dictionary, not against each other," adding, "I'm happy to share this trophy with him." Ansun, who has only competed in the Bee once before, said of Sriram, "I'd seen him in the finals, and I wanted to be like that."
Each said they knew how to spell the word the other got wrong. Sriram failed to on "corpsbruder," a close comrade, and Ansun was taken down by "antigropelos," which means waterproof leggings. If this was a sports movie, Ansun would have gotten "antigropelos," wrong first and Sriram would have known how to spell "corpsbruder," but would have spelled it wrong intentionally to keep his close comrade in the game. But Sriram went first so we guess that's not what happened.
Here are some of the other words both boys spelled correctly: Skandhas, hyblaean, feijoada, augenphilologie, sdrucciola, holluschick, thyemelici, paixtle, encaenia, Terreplein and, finally, stichomythia for Sriram and feuilleton for Ansun.
But not every contestant, of course, had as triumphant a journey as Sriram and Ansun. One flew too close to the sun, and got burned.
Don't worry kids, you're all champions to us.