Eight spellers were better than the dictionary. They were better than anything the Scripps National Spelling Bee could throw at them. And they all ended up with a hand on the trophy. In the most extraordinary ending in the 94-year history of the competition, the bee ended in an eight-way tie on Thursday night, the AP reports. The eight co-champions spelled the final 47 words correctly, going through five consecutive perfect rounds. Each will get the full winner's prize of $50,000 in cash. They are: Rishik Gandhasri, Erin Howard, Saketh Sundar, Shruthika Padhy, Sohum Sukhatankar, Abhijay Kodali, Christopher Serrao, and Rojan Raja.
With eight spellers remaining after three hours of spelling in the prime-time finals, pronouncer Jacques Bailly told the remaining spellers that Scripps only had enough words left to challenge them for three more rounds, and anyone who got through the remaining three rounds would be declared a co-champion. The bee has never had more than a two-way tie for the title in its history. Bee executive director Paige Kimble said bee organizers discussed this contingency plan for ending the competition earlier Thursday after it took 5.5 hours to narrow the field from 50 spellers to 16. (Last year, the winner was a wild card who didn't win his county spelling bee.)