National Spelling Bee Fast Facts

National Spelling Bee Fast Facts

Posted: Jul 9, 2021 9:00 AM
Updated: Jul 9, 2021 9:00 AM

Here is a look at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

July 8, 2021 - The Scripps National Spelling Bee finals takes place. Zaila Avant-garde, a 14-year-old from New Orleans, Louisiana, wins, becoming the first African American contestant to win in 93 editions of the competition.

April 21, 2020 - Organizers announce that the Scripps National Spelling Bee is canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. The only other time the event was canceled was from 1943 to 1945 because of World War II.

2021 Champion Prizes

A $50,000 cash prize from Scripps as well as the Scripps National Spelling Bee trophy.

A $2,500 cash prize and reference library.

$400 in reference works and a three-year membership to Britannica Online Premium.

Other Facts

Contestants must be 15 or younger and must not have passed beyond the eighth grade.

Winning words have included: Laodicean, luge, therapy, croissant, milieu, lyceum, kamikaze, antediluvian, chiaroscurist, logorrhea, Purim and knack.

There were co-champions in 1950, 1957, 1962, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2019.

Each year, more than 11 million students take part in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The Oscar-nominated documentary "Spellbound," released in 2002, captures the 1999 Scripps National Spelling Bee and follows eight participants as they prepare for the event.


1925 - The Louisville Courier-Journal starts the event with nine contestants. Frank Neuhauser is the first winner, after spelling the word "gladiolus" correctly.

1941 - Scripps Howard assumes sponsorship of the program.

1943-1945 - The National Spelling Bee is not held due to World War II.

March 5-6, 2017 - A 5-year-old girl from Oklahoma wins a regional spelling bee and qualifies to compete in the 2017 national event. She is the youngest participant to secure a spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The girl, named Edith Fuller, defeats 52 other children at the regional contest, spelling such challenging words as jnana, sarsaparilla and Baedeker.

May 30, 2019 - Eight co-champions: Rishik Gandhasri, Erin Howard, Abhijay Kodali, Shruthika Padhy, Rohan Raja, Christopher Serrao, Sohum Sukhatankar, Saketh Sundar. All of the competitors from round 17 make it to the end. The competition goes on more than an hour and half past its scheduled time.

April 19, 2021 - The Scripps National Spelling Bee announces a spell-off option that can be used during the finals to declare a single champion.

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