Harini Logan: Texas teen wins Spelling Bee after first tiebreaker | News Arts and Culture

The 14-year-old from San Antonio wins the first-ever “spell-off” in a US national competition, winning a $50,000 prize.

Harini Logan of San Antonio won the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee after a first-ever “spell-off” was needed for a champion to emerge in the extremely tight competition.

Logan, 14, wins $50,000 from Scripps, along with other cash prizes and reference books from Merriam-Webster and Encyclopedia Britannica.

She beat 12-year-old Vikram Raju of Denver on Thursday after their neck and neck competition required a “spell” to decide the winner. The second prize is $25,000.

They won the top spots in the competition which pitted spellers between the ages of seven and 15 from across the United States and as far away as Guam for the 94th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee. This year’s competition was held in National Harbor, Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC.

When spelling, each contestant was given 90 seconds to correctly spell as many words as possible. Raju went first and spelled 15 words correctly out of the 19 he attempted.

Logan, who waited her turn in a soundproof area, came out to spell 21 of the 26 words she attempted correctly.

Both had the same list of words read to each other, ringing a bell to signal that they were ready to move on to the next word.

Most of Bee’s competitors were school-aged and all had to test negative for COVID-19 to participate and were masked on stage except when actively competing.

Logan is an eighth grade student at the Montessori School in San Antonio. This was her fourth and final year as a Bee competitor.

Last year, when 14-year-old Zaila Vanguard of New Orleans correctly spelled “Murraya,” a genus of plants, she became the first African-American to win the prestigious pageant that began in 1925.

The Bee was televised live. Play-by-play commentary heightens the excitement as contestants rack their brains to find the correct spellings of often obscure words.

After 27 years of broadcasting live on cable sports channel ESPN, this year’s live show has moved to ION and Bounce, two networks owned by a subsidiary of Scripps. The show’s host was actor LeVar Burton.

In 2019, an eight-way tie included such mind-blowing winning words as “erysipelas,” a skin infection; “auslaut”, the final sound of a word or a syllable; “palama”, webbing on the legs of aquatic birds; “pendeloque”, a pear-shaped gemstone or glass pendant; “odylic”, related to a hypothetical life force; “cernu”, drooping, “bougainvillea”, a climbing plant; and “aiguillette”, the braided ornament on military uniforms.

“HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to the 2022 Scripps #SpellingBee National Champion, Harini Logan… Way to represent our city! San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg wrote on Twitter Thursday night.

Texas Congressman Tony Gonzales also congratulated Logan. “Harini showed incredible dedication and hard work to bring home the gold,” he wrote in a social media post. “We are so proud of you!”

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