Nihar Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas, and Jairam Hathwar, 13, of Corning, New York, were declared co-champions at the National Spelling Bee on Thursday night.
“It was just insane, I don’t even know how to put it in words,” Jairam said.
“I’m just speechless. I can’t say anything. I’m only in fifth grade,” Nihar said.
Nihar correctly spelled the word “gesellschaft”, which refers to a type of social relationship and Jairam correctly spelled the word “Feldenkrais”, a trademark that refers to a system of aided body movements.
Jairam’s brother Sriram won the 2014 spelling championship.
Twice, it looked as if Jairam would be eliminated, after he misspelled “drahthaar”, a breed of dog, and “mischsprache”, a language. But Nihar missed his follow-up words, which put Jairam back in contention. (source:Ians).
The spellers took home $40,000 in cash and other prizes.
Ten contestants made it to the finals and competed for the title of national champion before a live television audience.
The bee began with 284 (boys: 143 and girls: 141) contestants. But the field had been narrowed to the 10 finalists, who came from California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York and Texas.
For the first time, competitors included a first-grader – 6-year-old Akash Vukoti of San Angelo, Texas.
Last year’s winners were Vanya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas, and Gokul Venkatachalam of Chesterfield, Missouri.