The 90th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee is being held May 30-June 1, 2017. Take a look at some background information about the competition.
For the third year in a row, the 2016 edition of the competition ended in a tie, with with Nihar Janga (left), 11, of Austin, Texas, and Jairam Hathwar (right), 13, of Corning, New York exhausting the list of final-round words.
To lessen the chances of another tie, the bee changed some rules for 2017. All finalists will be given a tiebreaker written test that will be used should two or three spellers remain standing at the end of 25 rounds. The speller who scored highest on the test would then be declared the national champion. However, if there's a tie on the test, those spellers would be named champions. That leaves open the possibility of two, or even three, co-winners.
The event includes written spelling and vocabulary tests on the first day, followed by two preliminary rounds of oral competitions on the second day and the finals featuring the top spellers on the final day.
A record 291 spellers are taking part in the 2017 spelling bee at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, just outside of Washington, D.C. Competitors come from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Department of Defense Schools in Europe. In addition, 11 of the spellers come from the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.
The 2017 edition features the bee's youngest-ever speller in 6-year-old Tulsa, Oklahoma, kindergarten student Edith Fuller, who was just 5 years old when she qualified for the national competition.
The 2015 tie was between co-winners Vanya Shivashankar and Gokul Venkatachalam. Vanya's winning word was "scherenschnitte," which means the art of cutting paper into decorative designs, while Gokul's winning word was "nunatak," which means a hill or mountain completely surrounded by glacial ice.
Vanya Shivashankar made history in 2015 as the first sibling of a previous winner to win. She is seen here hugging her sister Kavya at the 2009 competition. Kavya's winning word that year was laodicean, which means lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics.
In the first tie since 1962, Ansun Sujoe and Sriram Hathwar were co-champions of the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee competition. Ansun spelled "feuilleton" and Sriram spelled "stichomythia."
Contestants must not have reached the age of 15 on or before Aug. 31, 2016, and must not have passed beyond the eighth grade on or before Feb. 1, 2017.
Winning words have included: Laodicean, luge, therapy, croissant, milieu, lyceum, kamikaze, antediluvian, chiaroscurist, logorrhea, Purim, and knack.
Prizes for 2017 are a $40,000 cash prize from Scripps as well as the Scripps National Spelling Bee trophy, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and complete reference library from Merriam-Webster, $400 of reference works from Encyclopædia Britannica, and a trip to New York City to appear on "Live with Kelly and Ryan."