For the second year in a row, the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee awarded its championship trophy to two winners after the finalists breezily went through so many words, the judges ran out of them.
“I think it’s great to be a co-spelling bee champ, because more people got an opportunity to win and less hearts were broken,” Gokul Venkatachalam told TODAY's Natalie Morales on Friday.
The 14-year-old Missouri teen shared the title with Vanya Shivashankar, 13, of Kansas. In addition to the trophy, the pair will receive nearly $38,000 and a Merriam-Webster dictionary, not that they’ll need it.
Vanya correctly spelled the word "scherenschnitte," which means the art of cutting paper into decorative designs, to secure her spot at the top. When Gokul walked up for his turn, he was told the championship word list was about to run out and that he would join Vanya in first place if he could spell the following word: "nunatak." He did it without even asking for a definition.
The two winners were among 285 contestants in the national bee, winnowed down from 11 million entrants in regional contests. Two-thirds of the children came from public schools.