The South Asian Times

24 August 2019 10:15 AM

7 Indian American kids are Spelling Bee co-champs

New York: Seven Indian-origin kids, along with an American, have been declared co-champions of the Scripps National Spelling Bee after the tie among the eight couldn't be broken even after 20 rounds of the finals.

The unprecedented decision to declare eight co-champions was taken last Thursday after the organizers ran out of their selection of difficult words to challenge them further.

The 10-year monopoly of Indian-origin children was finally broken with a non-Indian girl from Alabama, Erin Howard, becoming a co-champion.

The seven Indian-origin winners (with the final word they spelled correctly in parenthesis) are Rishik Gandhasri (auslaut), Saketh Sundar (bougainvillea), Shruthika Padhy (aiguillette), Sohum Sukhatankar (pendeloque), Abhijay Kodali (palama), Christopher Serrao (cernuous) and Rohan Raja (odylic).

The winners, who will each get $50,000 and a trophy, were the last ones standing from among the 562 contestants drawn from across the US and abroad.

In the past only two co-winners were declared - most recently Indians in 2014, 2015 and 2016 - making the eight this year a record.

The national level contest held in a Washington suburb is broadcast nationally on ESPN.

Since Balu Natarajan won the Spelling Bee in 1985, Indian-origin children have been winners in 19 years, continuously for ten years from 2008 to 2018.

Indian-origin children do well in the Spelling Bee because the Indian community prizes participation in it and several community groups and businesses organize competitions for children within the community.

Update: 07 June, 2019