CRAZY COOL GROOVY CONGRATULATIONS goes out to eighth-graders VANYA SHIVASHANKAR, 13, of OLATHE, KS, and GOKUL VENKATACHALAM, 14, of CHESTERFIELD, MO, for on Thursday, May 28, being declared CO-CHAMPIONS of the 2015 SCRIPPS NATIONAL SPELLING BEE!!!
ESPN reports the bee hadn't ended in a tie for 52 years -- until last year. Now it has happened for an unprecedented two years running.
VANYA was competing in the bee for the fifth and final time.
Her sister, KAVYA -- now a sophomore at Columbia University -- competed four times, which means the Shivashankar family has made the trip nine of the past 10 years.
KAVYA SHIVASHANKAR said;
"I'm so, so proud and in awe of my sister."
VANYA, who also acts and plays the tuba and piano, dedicated her victory to her late grandmother, who died in 2013.
VANYA SHIVASHANKAR said;
"Everything takes hard work and passion. That's definitely what I put in, and I know Gokul put that into this endeavor as well."
She aspires to be a cardiac surgeon. In the meantime, she hopes to devote more time to acting and persuade her family to take a Caribbean cruise this summer.
He had a gruff onstage demeanor, confirming a word's roots and definition before chugging through the letters as if he had dinner plans.
Under his blue-and-white button-down shirt, Venkatachalam wore the jersey of his idol, LeBron James.
GOKUL VENKATACHALAM said;
"I wasn't nervous."GOKUL hopes to attend Stanford and become an entrepreneur or stockbroker.
Proving their superiority over even their toughest competitors, VANYA and GOKUL went head-to-head for 10 rounds before the list of 25 championship words was exhausted.
The words included bouquetière, caudillismo, thamakau, scytale, Bruxellois and pyrrhuloxia. Shivashankar appeared to struggle only with the Fijian-derived thamakau, which is a type of outrigger canoe.
Before the bee began, SCRIPPS NATIONAL SPELLING BEE Executive Director PAIGE KIMBLE predicted it would be another 50 years before it ended in a tie. Now she's thinking differently.
PAIGE KIMBLE said;
"I think it's time to consider that the bee may be entering a new era where the level of competition is so intense that we need to entertain this as a possibility every year."
The past 10 winners of the bee, and 14 of the past 18, have been of Indian descent, a run of dominance that began in 1999 with Nupur Lala's victory, which was later featured in the documentary, SPELLBOUND.
VANYA and GOKUL each will receive more than $37,000 in cash and prizes, and while they held up the trophy together as they were being showered with confetti, each will get one to take home.