Eleven students will compete in the 93rd annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in Orlando, Florida, to take home the coveted Scripps Cup Thursday night. The competition has been a feat of orthographic endurance for decades, giving each student a chance at thousands of dollars in prize money.
Last year’s competition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the first time the spelling bee was canceled since 1945.
This year, each stage of the Spelling Bee was held remotely but the finalists will convene at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney Resort. The winner, one of more than 200 students who first entered the competition, will win $50,000.
First Lady Jill Biden will attend this year’s finals. Kevin Negandhi, a co-anchor on the 6 P.M. ET SportsCenter, will host the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Negandhi previously hosted the event in 2016 and 2017. Paul Loeffler, a finalist in 1990 and the voice of Fresno State athletics, will return as an expert analyst for a 15th year and ESPN reporter Jen Lada will serve as an interviewer and reporter.
How to watch
The Scripps National Spelling Bee will be broadcast at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and ESPNU – and streaming on ESPN.com.
Who are the spelling bee finalists?
The 11 finalists are:
Roy Seligman, 12, from Nassau, The Bahamas
Bhavana Madini, 13, from New York
Sreethan Gajula, 14, from Charlotte, North Carolina
Ashrita Gandhari, 14, from Leesburg, Virginia
Avani Joshi, 13, from Loves Park, Illinois
Zaila Avant-garde, 14, from New Orleans
Vivinsha Veduru, 10, from Fort Worth, Texas
Dhroov Bharatia, 12, from Dallas
Vihaan Sibal, 12, from Waco, Texas
Akshainie Kamma, 13, from Austin, Texas
Chaitra Thummala, 12, from San Francisco
This year’s Spelling Bee will feature a new format designed to increase the competition in the search of one, true champion. This year, spellers will face new vocabulary questions and, if needed, a tiebreaker round.
The new vocabulary portion, will ask the speller to answer a multiple-choice question during the second round of each competition level all the way to the finals.
For this year’s competition, officials can start a “spell-off” to rule out the possibility of a tie. If there’s no clear winner with time running down in the last round, all remaining spellers will be given 90 seconds to spell as many words possible from a prepared list. Whoever spells the most words correctly wins the title.
In 2019, a record-breaking eight finalists were named co-champion. All the Spelling Bees from 2014 to 2016 ended in a tie.
The Scripps Cup
Before 2019, no trophies were exclusive to the spelling bee. Until a trophy was commissioned to honor the competition’s legacy.
Made of porcelain with a carved base in the shape of a book, the cup is radiant with vibrant Gladiolus flowers and bees fluttering around the petals. The trophy was designed by Cincinnati’s Rockwood Pottery.
The design celebrates the Spelling Bee’s illustrious history. Gladiolus was the word that won the first competition in 1925.
Follow Christian Ortega on Twitter @unofficialchris.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Scripps Spelling Bee 2021: How to watch, live stream, rules, finalists