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Meet Akash Vukoti, 6, the National Spelling Bee's youngest competitor

"I just get the letters in my mind. As I speak, say the letters, the letters come out of my mind."
/ Source: TODAY

So he didn't win the Scripps National Spelling Bee. No big. Six-year-old Akash Vukoti will surely get 'em next year.

The young contender was one of 285 kids vying for the first prize in this year's competition, and the first first-grader ever to compete, USA Today reported.

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As for the word that tripped him up? "Bacteriolytic," a word used to describe the destruction of bacteria. It was his second word of the event.

When the San Angelo, Texas, native attempted to spell the word, he used an "a" in place of the "o."

But what he got instead likely more than made up for the disappointment: a standing ovation from the huge crowd, high fives from the other competitors and the knowledge that, for him, there are many years left to compete for the title.

"I was very little ... about 1 and a half. My uncle gave me a spoon. I spelled it S-P-O-O-N," the tiny speller told Vox. "And that's it, that's how it started."

He then proceeded to spell "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis" — the longest word in the English dictionary.

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Just how does all this go down, you wonder? It's very simple really.

"I just get the letters in my mind. As I speak, say the letters, the letters come out of my mind. And I say the first letter every time the letters come out," he said.


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This year's spellers come from all over the U.S., plus the Bahamas, Canada, Europe, Ghana, Guam, Jamaica, Japan, Puerto Rico, South Korea and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They range in age from 6 to 14, and the roster includes 144 boys and 141 girls.

On Thursday night, the famous competition will be broadcast live on ESPN and a victor will be crowned, with prizes including $40,000 and a trophy.

While we'll miss seeing Vukoti up there on the stage, we're glad the little guy won't have to stay up too late past his bedtime.