Double-double: Spelling Bee Crowns Co-champions Again

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May 30, 2015

Two years running, the Scripps National Spelling Bee have named co-champions. In 2015, the winners are Vanya Shivashankar, a 13-year-old 8th-grader from Olathe, Kan., and Gokul Venkatachalam, a 14-year-old 8th-grader from St. Louis.

Both winners performed very well in the final round, making quick work of the 25 difficult words. Vanya’s winning word was “scherenschnitte,” German for a method of cutting paper into decorative designs. Gokul’s winning word was “nunatak,” an Inuit word that describes the part of a mountain peak that is not covered with snow or ice.

They shared the winner’s trophy and $30,000; other gifts included reference books from Encyclopedia Britannica and a $2,500 savings bond from dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster.

Vanya, whose sister Kavya won the Spelling Bee in 2009, had competed in 2010 and 2012–2014. Gokul had competed for the past three years and, last year, finished in third place, just behind co-champions Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe.

A total of 285 spellers took part in the 2015 National Spelling Bee. All 50 U.S. states were represented, as were America Samoa, the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Guam, Jamaica, Japan, Puerto Rico, South Korea, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Department of Defense Schools in Europe. The oldest contestant was 15. The youngest was 9.

The crowning of co-champions was the fifth such joint win in the 88-year history of the event. In addition to 2014, event organizers crowned co-champions in 1957, 1960, and 1962.

The competition took place in the Maryland Ballroom in the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.

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