It turned out to be a historic night at the 92nd Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., May 30, as eight teenagers were declared co-champions. The winners — Rishik Gandhasri, 13, of California; Erin Howard, 14, of Alabama; Saketh Sundar, 13, of Maryland; Shruthika Padhy, 13, of New Jersey; Sohum Sukhatankar, 13, of Texas; Abhijay Kodali, 12, of Texas; Christopher Serrao, 13, of New Jersey and Rohan Raja, 13, of Texas — closed the Bee with 47 correct spellings in a row in a final that went into 20 rounds. Each speller displayed his or her command over words and their etymologies. This is the first time that more than two co-champions were named.
As the 17th round came to a close, Dr. Jacques Bailly, the Bee’s official pronouncer said: “We are in ‘uncharted territory’ and that ‘we won't run out of words, but we may run out of words that will challenge the most storied assemblage of spellers in the history of the Bee.’
Gandhasri became the first co-champion as he correctly spelled "auslaut.” Howard followed with “erysipelas,” while Sundar breezed through the word "bougainvillea.” Padhy broke the shortest-held record in the history of the Bee, becoming the fourth co-champion by nailing "aiguillette,” and Sukhatankar correctly spelled "pendeloque." Next was Kodali with "palama,” and then Serrao with "cernuous.” Raja became the eighth co-champion after not faltering at “odylic."
The seven Indian-American winners are alumni of the South Asian Spelling Bee. “As Scripps National Spelling Bee gets ready to declare 8 co-champions, a major credit goes to the many tutors & coaches along with the parents who work hard with their spellers and led them to ultimately ‘broken the Bee’,” founder Rahul Walia wrote on his Facebook page. “As the founder of the South Asian Spelling Bee it is my humble salute to these unsung #SpellingBeeheroes.”