2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee: Two Spellers Jointly Win Championship

2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee: Two Spellers Jointly Win Championship
DSC_0029 Scripps National Spelling Bee / Flickr CC BY 2.0

The 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in a tie on Thursday.


The title was shared by Vanya Shivashankar, 13, of Olathe, Kansas, and Gokul Venkatachalam, 14, of Chesterfield, Missouri.

Two contestants hadn’t been jointly crowned champions for 52 years until last year.

The decision came after the competition’s list of 25 championship words had exhausted. Last year, Scripps explained the criteria for two contestants winning the title.

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“Once there are three spellers left in a round, the next round begins with a 25-word list,” the website says. “Ordinarily, a winner is declared if one speller misspells and the remaining speller correctly spells two words in a row. If no winner is declared before the list has been exhausted—or there are not enough words left for two consecutive spellings—co-champions are announced.”

Vanya and Gokul correctly spelled the words “scherenschnitte” and “nunatak.”

Before that, the two finalists were engaged in the battle for 10 rounds before the list of 25 championship words ran dry. The words included bouquetiΦre, caudillismo, thamakau, scytale, Bruxellois and pyrrhuloxia.

The finals of the national championship, which saw 285 spellers competing for the coveted title, was broadcasted on Thursday night live on ESPN.

As both Vanya and Gokul are in the eighth grade, it was their last chance for a shot at the championship. It was Vanya’s fifth appearance at the bee.

According to CNN, One of the ESPN announcers said during the finals, “They’re as calm and cool under pressure as anyone we’ve ever seen here.

“It maybe impossible to stump these two tonight,” he said later.

Vanya said, “Everything takes hard work and passion. That’s definitely what I put in and I know Gokul put that into this endeavor as well.”

Gokul, a LeBron James fan, said he “wasn’t nervous,” and that he wanted to watch the NBA finals after the bee.

Gokul came third last year, according to NBC News.

Cole Shafer-Ray, 14, of Norman, Oklahoma, finished third. It was his first appearance in the finals.

Indian-Americans have won the title 14 out of the last 18 times.

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