All right, time for something to pick you up on a Friday. Here’s something you don’t see every day:
Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe correctly spelled so many words Thursday that the Scripps National Spelling Bee had to declare them both winners.
Why? Because there weren’t enough words left on the competition’s list for them to keep facing off until only one was left standing.
In the bee’s final round, Hathwar, 14, an eighth-grader from Painted Post, New York, correctly spelled the word “stichomythia” — dialogue especially of altercation delivered by two actors.
Sujoe, 13, a seventh-grader from Fort Worth, Texas, correctly spelled the word “feuilleton” — part of a European newspaper.
It’s the first time the bee has ended in a tie in more than 50 years. The last time there were co-champions was in 1962, organizers said. Ties also ended the bees in 1950 and 1957.
There’s been some hay made about some racist comments appearing (e.g., why can’t “real Americans” win the spelling bee). I think that’s mostly trolling. Almost everyone else is expressing nothing but admiration for these two young men. The reason the bee has come to be dominated by first- and second-generation American in recent years is probably because immigrants appreciate the opportunities of this country and the value of education a little more than most other Americans do. In the high-pressure environment of spelling stichomythia on a national stage, that can be the difference.
I’m damned proud of these two young men who, in their words, took on the dictionary and won.