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2018 The 91st Scripps National Spelling Bee
May 29, 2018
from NYT / Scripps National Spelling Bee / USA TODAY

The 91st Scripps National Spelling Bee is being held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland from May 29–31, 2018. "Bee Week", including additional speller events, will run from May 27 to June 1.
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Spelling may be in trouble in the era of “covfefe.” But it’s serious business at this week’s Scripps National Spelling Bee near Washington, with ESPN coverage and $40,000 for the winner.
It’s a far cry from 1925, when Frank Neuhauser got $500 in gold as the bee’s first winner. He had to spell his winning word, “gladiolus,” for strangers for the rest of his life.
    Last year’s winner was Ananya Vinay, who won with “marocain.” Although she isn’t allowed to compete in this year’s national bee, she’s still spelling and coaching others.
    Texas is the state with the most winners, 11. Twenty-two states have had none. Spellers from other countries can compete, and the first international winner was Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica in 1998, above, with “chiaroscurist.” There are spellers from five countries other than the U.S. this year.
    The longest winning word was “scherenschnitte,” spelled by Vanya Shivashankar, who was a co-champion in 2015. The shortest was “luge,” which won Daniel Greenblatt the title in 1984.
    In 1983, a child who lost made news. Andrew Flosdorf was praised “for his utter honesty” after telling the judges they misheard him when they said he spelled “echolalia” correctly. “I didn’t want to feel like a slime,” he said.
- Sarah Anderson
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    This year, the Scripps National Spelling Bee has expanded the field of competitors by 238 people through a program known as RSVBee.
    The program started as a way to increase fairness among competitors. It allows more spellers from highly competitive areas, or those that don't have sponsors, to compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. This year, there are 516 spellers at the Bee, a record number of participants.
    Sarah Schmid, speller 162, from Georgia, is one such speller. Traditionally, Georgia has only had two spellers at the Bee, because of the number of sponsors available. This year, there are nine.
    “It's a great second chance,” said Sarah's mother, Monica Schmid.
    Sarah found out during her spring break that she was accepted through the program.
    “I was laughing so hard I was crying,” she said.
    Mark Schmid, Sarah's father, said on Sunday that it was already a great experience.
    “In today's world, there's a lot of influences in the wrong direction. This is an influence in the right direction,” he said. “It makes you realize there's a group of people out there who think it's cool and it's good to excel academically.”
    Mishra Agrawal, speller 407, from Tennessee, is also here through RSVBee. Mishra said it was surreal to be in the competition, when before, she's only watched it on TV.
    “It's amazing,” she said. “I was so excited, jumping around. This means so much to me. I was working really hard to try to achieve this goal.”
    Xavier Adams, speller 56, from Florida, is here through RSVBee. His mother, Kathelyn Jacques-Adams, said his region is very competitive. There are a lot of people who aren't able to advance.
    When he found out he was coming to Washington, Xavier said, he started crying.
    “I'm glad I'm here,” he said.
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Read more
"Why the Scripps National Spelling Bee has its largest pool of spellers ever" by Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY - May 29, 2018 - the article
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