Fourteen-year-old Harini Logan blitzed through a tiebreaker spell-off to win the The Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday, successfully spelling 21 words within 90 seconds. It was the first spell-off in the Spelling Bee’s history, after the element was first introduced last year.
This year the Spelling Bee started with 324 competitors, though by Thursday’s final they were narrowed down to just two: Logan, from San Antonio, Texas, and 12-year-old Vikram Raju from Denver, Colorado. Faced with these two spelling experts, the judges appeared to pull out their most difficult words in order to stump them. As such, the two finalists traded incorrect answers for several rounds, before the decision was made to hold a spell-off in order to break the tie.
Both Logan and Raju had 90 seconds to spell as many words as they could, given to them from the same list and in the same order. Raju took to the podium first while Logan was sequestered, correctly spelling 15 of the words he attempted.
It was an impressive accomplishment, but unfortunately not quite enough to win Raju this year’s Scripps Spelling Bee. Logan subsequently bested his store by six words, managing to spell 21 words correctly and securing the win.
“It is my fourth time at the Bee, and this is just such a dream — and well, I am just overwhelmed,” said Logan.
The 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee was the first time the competition was held completely in-person since 2019, as it was cancelled in 2020 and held partially virtually in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The spell-off was one of the Scripps National Spelling Bee’s most exciting moments in recent memory, though it wasn’t the only dramatic event this year — nor the only one involving Logan.
Earlier in the finals Logan had been eliminated for providing an ostensibly incorrect answer in the multiple choice vocabulary section. Asked what “pullulation” means, she had defined it as the nesting of mating birds, when the answer the judges had been looking for was the swarming of bees.
However, upon review the judges determined Logan’s given answer can also be considered correct. She was soon reinstated to the competition, and ultimately went on to win the entire thing. She takes home several prizes, including the Scripps Cup, a commemorative medal, reference works from Merriam-Webster and Encyclopædia Britannica, and a total of $52,500 in cash. Raju doesn’t go home empty-handed either, also winning a medal and $25,000 in cash for second place.