Meet the Scripps National Spelling Bee Champions

Meet the Scripps National Spelling Bee Champions

Jairam Hathwar, a 13-year-old speller from Painted Post, New York, and Nihar Janga, an 11-year-old speller from Austin, Texas, are co-champions of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee, presented by Kindle.

It was a marathon finish for these two competitors. In the 39th round, Hathwar correctly spelled “Feldenkrais,” a medical term used for a system of aided body movements intended to increase bodily awareness and ease tension.

Janga immediately followed by spelling “gesellschaft,” which means a rationally developed mechanistic type of social relationship characterized by impersonally contracted associations between persons.

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With these correct spellings, the Scripps National Spelling Bee declared co-champions for the third year in a row.

Hathwar and Janga tackled every difficult word and lasted through all 39 rounds, including 24 rounds of head-to-head competition. The Scripps National Spelling Bee introduced a new format this year for the final three competitors.

Once the competition reached the final three spellers in Round 16, the rules for this year changed from the previous year’s 25-word pre-determined list to a maximum of 25 rounds in which each speller received a word in each round.

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This was Hathwar’s second time and Janga’s first time participating in the National Finals. Hathwar’s brother Sriram Hathwar was a co-champion in 2014.

Rich Boehne, chairman, president and CEO of The E.W. Scripps Company, declared Hathwar and Janga co-champions and awarded them engraved championship trophies moments before ESPN signed off from its national broadcast of the 89th Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The competition began Tuesday with 285 spellers who advanced to the Scripps National Spelling Bee after beating the odds to reach this level. They are among the top 0.000026 percent of more than 11 million students who initially participated in spelling bees held in classrooms, schools and locally sponsored events around the country.

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Bee Week took place in the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. Round-by-round results are available at

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is an educational program. The purpose of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage.

Scripps National Spelling Bee is administered on a not-for-profit basis by The E.W. Scripps Company (NYSE: SSP) which offers a range of television, radio, and digital media brands.

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