It’s a draw! National Spelling Bee ends with first tie in decades

BY Elizabeth Jones  May 30, 2014 at 12:47 PM EST
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

And the word is … “stalemate.” For the first time in more than half a century, the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee ended Thursday with a confetti celebration with not one, but two winners.

Sriram Hathwar, 14, of Painted Post, New York, and Ansun Sujoe, 13, of Fort Worth, Texas, became the fourth pair of co-champions in the bee’s 89-year history, and the first since 1962. While they may share the national spelling championship title, each of the spelling bee winners will take home $33,000 and a trophy of their own.

When it was down to just the two of them, both Hathwar and Sujoe missed a word.

Hathwar’s word was stichomythia, a theatrical term derived from Classical Greek theater for dialogue representing an altercation and delivered in alternating lines. But the bell rang and it was Sujoe’s turn.

Sujoe’s word was feuilleton, the features section of a European newspaper or magazine.

After Sujoe missed his word, he and Hathwar became gridlocked in what seemed like a never-ending duel until finally, both were named victor.

“The competition was against the dictionary, not against each other,” Sriram said. “I’m happy to share this trophy with him.”

“It feels pretty good because not only do I get the victory, but I get to share it with someone else, so it means a lot to me,” Sujoe told CNN’s “New Day” on Friday.

The competition began with more than 11 million students participating in classrooms, schools and locally-sponsored spelling bees in eight countries including the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan, South Korea and all 50 U.S. states and territories.

Only 281, or the top 0.000026 percent, had the chance to compete in the national championship.