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Scripps National Spelling Bee: Money, Hardware, & Glory Awaits the C-H-A-M-P

The world’s top youth spellers have made it to the big stage for a shot at $50K in prize money and the opportunity to spell their way into the history books.

To bee, or not to bee? There is no question.

It’s time for the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Get your popcorn ready.

This year, 234 students from across the county and around the globe are competing for a chance to be crowned the W-I-N-N-E-R of the 94th Scripps National Spelling Bee.

It’s the biggest stage in the sport of spelling and it’s about to get even more hype as the best of the best battle their way toward the final round on June 2.

And for the first time in Bee history, the competition will air exclusively on ION and Bounce, which are part of Scripps’ portfolio of free, over-the-air national networks. Past competitions have been shown on ESPN.

Last year’s winner —Zaila Avant-garde — captured hearts with a simple smile and twirl after spelling “murraya” in the final round (our spellcheck says that’s not even a word).

With her victory, the 14-year-old not only made history as the first Black American to take the top spot, but her spelling success also propelled her into the national spotlight — magazine covers, feature stories, etc.

But which well-versed boy or girl will be next?

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Who Will it Bee?

Organizers of this year’s Bee have the details of the competition dialed — complete with a full roster of spellers and their profiles. We’re talking age, schools, favorite food, books, school subjects, and more.

While there are no predetermined favorites, this year’s bee features four 2021 finalists —Dhroov Bharatia, Vivinsha Veduru, Vihaan Sibal, and Roy Seligman. There are also a few spelling vets returning to the big stage — Akash Vukoti is competing in the national competition for the fifth year, while Maya Jean Jadhav and Harini Logan are entering their fourth year in the mix.

Let’s take a look at the field of competition:

  • This year’s field of competitors includes students ages seven through 15 years old, in grades two through eight.
  • The field consists of 105 female spellers, 128 male spellers, and one non-binary speller.
  • The field includes students representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Department of Defense Schools in Europe, as well as four countries outside the U.S. —the Bahamas, Canada, Germany, and Ghana.
  • 23 spellers have relatives who have competed in a previous Scripps Spelling Bee.
  • 14 of the competing spellers have twins — fraternal twins Deetya and Saharsh Vuppala are both competing this week as well.
  • There are two sets of siblings in this year’s bee.
  • The youngest competitor is seven-year-old Matthew Yi from New Orleans, LA.

To Bee the Champ

The winner of the first-ever National Spelling Bee in 1925 was Frank Neuhauser, an 11-year-old from Louisville, Kentucky, who correctly spelled “gladiolus” to claim the crown. His winnings? A stack of gold coins worth $500 and a visit with President Calvin Coolidge.

This year’s champ will walk away with considerably more — we’re talking a $50,000 cash prize, a commemorative medal, and the Scripps Cup, the official championship trophy of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. They will also receive a $2,500 cash prize and reference library from sponsor Merriam-Webster and more.

Let’s take a look at the cash prizes for the entire field of finishers:

  • 1st Place: $52,500
  • 2nd place: $25,000
  • 3rd place: $15,000
  • 4th place: $10,000
  • 5th place: $5,000
  • 6th place: $2,500

Any speller who makes it to the finals but places outside of sixth place will also receive a $2,000 prize.

And let’s not forget about the potential for fame that awaits the next champ.

In the year since her victory, Avant-garde has enjoyed the ups and down of being a celebrity — sharing in a recent interview that she had people “chase her across the street in New York City and had TMZ photographers shoot her, paparazzi-style.”

While admittedly things have calmed down a lot, Zaila got a chance to attend the ESPYs, and also appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live. She was named the Sports Illustrated Sports Kid of the Year, and has mingled with celebrities such as Shaquille O’Neal, Anthony Mackie, and sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson.

The National Spelling Bee: By the Numbers

  • There have been 106 total champions — 52 girls and 54 boys.
  • The states with the most champions are Texas (15), Ohio (9), Pennsylvania (8), Tennessee (7), Colorado (7), and California (6).
  • The longest word spelled to win the bee was “scherenschnitte.” The shortest was “luge.”

Tune in for live finals airing in primetime on ION and Bounce from 8-10 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 2.

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