NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. Nihar Janga, a fifth-grader from Austin, Texas, and Jairam Hathwar, a seventh-grader from Painted Post, New York, were declared co-champions of the U.S. Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday.
The pair battled head to head for 25 rounds in the finals. They ended co-winners when Jairam, 13, correctly spelled ‘feldenkrais’, a method of education, and Nihar, 11, aced ‘gesellschaft’, a type of social relationship.
“I can’t say anything. I’m just in fifth grade,” Nihar said after sharing the title and thanking his mother.
The tie is the third in a row in the Bee, a U.S. institution since 1925, and comes despite the contest introducing tougher rules this year to avoid another deadlock. Jairam and Nihar will each receive a $40,000 cash prize.
They are the ninth consecutive victors of South Asian ancestry, and the 12th in 16 years. Jairam’s brother Sriram was the 2014 co-champion.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Peter Cooney)