Teens become first joint US spelling champions in 52 years
Sriram Hathwar (C) of Painted Post, New York, and Ansun Sujoe (L) of Fort Worth, Texas, hold their trophy at the end of the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee competition, in National Harbor, Maryland, on May 29, 2014 - by Alex Wong
Ansun Sujoe, 13, and Sriram Hathwar, 14, on Thursday hoisted the gold cup after they saw off 10 other finalists and then spelled their way through the demanding final list of 25 words.
Hathwar would have been the champion after correctly spelling stichomythia, meaning a dialogue of altercation in Greek drama, the penultimate word on the list.
But then Sujoe came through with the final word, feuilleton, a French-derived noun for a newspaper supplement or soap opera, making him and Hathwar the first joint champions in 52 years.
They will each take home a golden trophy cup and more than $30,000 in cash prizes, savings bonds and reference works.
The boys are also the seventh and eighth youngsters of South Asian heritage since 2008 to win the bee, a nationally televised American institution dating back to the 1920s.
This year's 281 contestants, aged eight to 15, hailed from all 50 states plus the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, South Korea and US military schools overseas.
Last year, Arvind Mahankali, a 13-year-old New Yorker who placed third in 2011 and 2012, took home the coveted trophy and $30,000 in cash and prizes when he correctly spelled knaidel after a grueling 2.5-hour elimination final.