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Scripps Spelling Bee's 6-Year-Old Competitor Says Goodbye

Akash Vukoti, this year's youngest contestant, missed 'bacteriolytic'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2016 8:17 AM CDT

(Newser) – "Bacteriolytic" was what did Akash Vukoti in during the Scripps National Spelling Bee Wednesday, but considering he's only 6 years old, the fact that he appeared in the contest at all was no small feat, per NPR. The youngest of this year's 285 super-spellers, Akash used an "a" before "lytic" instead of an "o," placing him out of the competition, but the audience leapt to its feet and he received high-fives as he left the stage, USA Today reports. The first-grader from San Angelo, Texas, whose bee bio notes he competed in his first spelling contest when he was 2 1/2 years old, also reads and writes in the Indian languages Telugu and Hindi.

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Akash, who's home-schooled, studies words for about an hour a day, per Tech Insider. As for what Akash—who spelled "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis" correctly on Steve Harvey's Little Big Shots variety show in March—wants to be when he grows up, he's ready to become an "astroactor," per USA Today. He explained at a Wednesday news conference that when he was "little" he wanted to be an astronaut, then he met Steve Harvey and became inspired to work in front of the cameras—so he decided to do both. The bee finals wrap up Thursday night and will be broadcast live on ESPN starting at 8pm EDT. (The only other 6-year-old to compete in the bee was Lori Anne Madison in 2012, though it's unclear why she's not included in Scripps' stats.)

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