The Scripps National Spelling Bee takes place in late May. This year, the finals of the 87th annual National Spelling Bee will be televised on ESPN the evening of May 29th. It has become a source of fascination for many, spawning plays and movies like Akeelah and the Bee.
Here some fascinating facts about the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
* There’s serious money at stake.
The National Spelling Bee winner takes home a $30,000 cash prize from Scripps and a $2,500 bond from Merriam-Webster. They also get a trophy and $1,200 of reference works. The second place speller gets $12,500.
* There are 281 spellers in the 2014 National Spelling Bee.
Competitors must win a local bee to advance to the national competition and newspapers and other high-profile community businesses and organizations sponsor local bees.. Only 13 local spelling bee sponsors are owned by The E.W. Scripps Company.
* The gender breakdown is pretty even.
This year, there are 142 female competitors and 139 male competitors.
* Spellers can enter multiple times, and many do. This year, 78 spellers are making a repeat appearance.
In fact, Sriram J. Hathwar is making his fifth appearance at the National Spelling Bee.
* It runs in the family.
This year, two spellers, Vanya Shivashankar and Ashwin Veeramani, have siblings who have previously won the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
* The majority of spellers in the National Spelling Bee are from public schools.
Of the 281 competitors, 190 attend public school, 52 attend private school, 19 attend parochial school, 11 are home schooled and 9 attend charter schools.
* The spellers range in age from 8 to 15 years old.
The National Spelling Bee website explains that “the program is open to students who have neither turned 16 nor passed beyond the eighth grade.”
* The National Spelling Bee includes spellers from the United State and 7 other countries.
Spellers from the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan, South Korea will be joining spellers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense Schools in Europe.
* Dr. Jacques Bailly, the official pronouncer of the Bee, won the National Spelling Bee himself in 1980.
It’s safe to say he understands what the competitors are feeling as well as anyone. He has been the official pronouncer since 2003. He wrote the book How to Study for a Spelling Bee. When not pronouncing at the Bee, he is also a professor at the University of Vermont.
You can access them through the National Spelling Bee’s Word Club and a subscription costs $19.99.
* The winner of the first National Spelling Bee in 1925 took home the trophy by correctly spelling “gladiolus.”
With that word, Frank Neuhauser beat the other eight contestants.
* The 2013 winner, Arvind Mahankali of New York, won by properly spelling the word “knaidel.”
* “Spelling bee” is an American term.
No one quite knows the origin of the term “spelling bee” and it was used orally before first appearing in print in 1875. Other known bees are less academic, like logging bees and husking bees, and spinning bees.
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