The biggest spelling contest in the United States will be broadcast live Friday from Washington D.C. The tournament will be held by the E.W. Scripps Company, and is the longest-running educational promotion administered on a not-for-profit basis. It will be the 83rd time the competition is held during the week after Memorial Day.
Erin Andrews of ESPN and Dancing With the Stars fame will host alongside Chris Harrison, the host of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. ESPN has televised the event since 1994, and this year’s competition features 273 spellers from all over the world.
Andrews has served as a sideline reporter for ESPN since 2004. In her time there she has covered a wide array of sporting events including Major League Baseball, the Little League World Series, college football, college basketball, College World Series, NHL and several other big events. She stepped outside her normal duties when she appeared on the most recent season of Dancing With The Stars. The Bee will air live on ESPN and ESPN3.com.
Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio the Scripps company accepts winners from locally sponsored competitions. These local competitions are first organized in August and October of the preceding year. Sponsors range from local newspapers to educational companies. Then schools, both public and private, hold competitions in the winter.
Students ranging from eight to 15 years of age will travel to the nation’s capitol to earn the right to be called the world’s top speller. Competitors will come from many nations including Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Japan, The Bahamas, Canada, New Zealand, Ghana, South Korea, students from U.S. Defense and State Department schools in Europe and students from American schools in China.
The top 10 finishers from last year’s competition were all students from the continental United States. Kavya Shivashankar was the winner last year when she spelled Laodicean correctly. She hailed from Olathe, Kansas and was represented by the Olathe News.
Two competitors finished in a tie for second, three finished in a tie for fifth and eight. She beat out Aishwarya Pastapur who misspelled menhir, and Tim Ruiter who misspelled Maecenas. Kavya’s sister Vanya Shivashankar will make her first appearance at eight years old. For 110 competitors, it will be their first shot at being champion.
In the past, females have been designated the favorite to win the Bee by Online Sportsbooks. This year is different, however, and the males are favored at -135. The females come in as the slight underdogs at -105.