The dreaded bell that signals a misspelled word tolled for each of the last two spellers in the Scripps National Spelling Bee last night. But in an exhilarating twist, it wasn't the end for either of them. Sriram Hathwar, 14, of Painted Post, New York, and Ansun Sujoe, 13, of Fort Worth, Texas, got back-to-back words wrong, each giving a reprieve to the other. Neither stumbled again, and a dozen words later, they ended up as co-champions of the bee—a first in 52 years.
"The competition was against the dictionary, not against each other," Sriram said after both were showered with confetti onstage. "I'm happy to share this trophy with him." After their misses, the boys staged a riveting duel, plowing through the toughest words the bee had to offer—including feijoada, augenphilologie, sdrucciola, thyemelici, and paixtle—until the list was exhausted. Although the co-champions hoisted a single trophy together onstage, each will get one to take home, and each gets the champion's haul of more than $33,000 in cash and prizes.