Harini Logan wins in spell-off

Harini Logan wins in spell-off

OXON HILL, Md. — The 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in a way none of the 93 competitions before it did.

A spell-off.

The final two competitors, Vikram Raju and Harini Logan, failed to correctly spell two words in a row between Rounds 13 and 18. At that point, judges opted to institute the first spell-off – 90 seconds to spell as many words as possible correctly . The one with the most spelled correctly would win the Bee.

Logan – an eighth-grader from Texas – spelled 21 words correctly, compared to Raju’s 15, to become the 2022 champion.

“Just so surreal, this is such a dream,” Logan, competing in her fourth national competition, said.

Logan, 14, nearly didn’t advance past the word meaning round on Thursday. She’d heard the tragic bell after her answer for “pullulation” was rejected.

“I was like ‘Wow, I’m out. This is it,'” Logan said.

However, the judges conferred during a break and ruled that the answer she gave could be correct, since it could mean “to breed” or “to swarm.”

Head judge Mary Brooks explained the ruling and Logan, who only minutes earlier had learned of her reversed fortunes, returned to her seat on the stage.

“There was a few minutes in between that were frantic,” Logan said.

Logan rolled through the rest of the spelling until her stalemate with Raju, which led to the spell-off.

Harini Logan, 14, holds a trophy after winning the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

It was like a round of Family Feud’s “Fast Money” met the Spelling Bee. The typical questions competitors may ask the pronouncer – part of speech, etymology and definition – were not permitted. Each word had to be attempted – no skips or passes – and the speller had to press a buzzer before the next word appeared. While Raju went first, Logan was sequestered in a room backstage with noise-canceling headphones that played classical music into her ears so she couldn’t hear his answers.

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