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Two Co-Winners Triumph in US National Spelling Bee


Jairam Hathwar, 13, of Painted Post, N.Y., left, and Nihar Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas, right, pat each other on the back as they hear that they will likely be announced co-champions after a drawn-out battle that did indeed end in them being named co-champions in the 2016 National Spelling Bee, in National Harbor, Md., May 26, 2016.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee had all of the edge-of-the-seat excitement and nail-biting anxiety of any sporting event usually seen on ESPN, the sports network that aired the annual event.

This year's competition was a repeat of last year's - once again two Indian American youngsters were co-winners, each taking home a trophy and $45,000 in cash and prizes.

Eleven-year-old Nihar Janga is the youngest winner of the bee on record. His winning word was "gesellschaft" - a type of social relationship

Thirteen-year-old Jairam Hathwar is the younger brother of a former winner. He correctly spelled "feldenkrais" - an education method.

Ten contestants from several U.S. states took the stage Thursday to compete in the final round of the national bee.

Contestants advance from local contests to regional ones, and finally to Washington for a chance to compete in the prestigious competition. The spellers come from U.S. states and territories as well as military bases overseas. Most of the spellers are 13 or 14 years old.

The bee has been held annually since 1925, except during World War II, when travel and resources were restricted to support the war effort.

Over the years, the winning words have gotten more and more obscure, making the final round of competition a tense couple of hours for its young competitors. If a speller's face is particularly expressive, video of it is likely to circulate on the internet the next day - increasing the pressure, certainly, but also the prestige that comes with competing in a legendary event.