“I’m just speechless,” he said. “I can’t say anything, I’m only in fifth grade.”
It’s the third straight year the bee has had two winners.
Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas, was one of the youngest spellers in the top 10. He nearly won outright twice in the championship rounds following errors by Hathwar, but each time flubbed a single letter. An audience favorite, he often verified definitions of obscure words with the judges — “is that an Irish prime minister?” — rather than requesting them.
Hathwar, 13, of Corning, N.Y., follows in the footsteps of his brother Sriram, who competed in the national bee five times, and was one of two winners in 2014.
The 10 finalists coming into the night ranged in age from 11 to 14. It was the first time four of them, including Janga, had been in the event. Five have competed once before, including Hathwar, and one had participated twice before.
They hailed from California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York and Texas. (Search for spellers in your state on the bee’s website.)
The grandfather of finalist Cooper Komatsu competed in 1955.
Click on their bios to learn more:
No. 13: Cooper Komatsu
No. 16: Snehaa Ganesh Kumar
No. 20: Rutvik M. Gandhasri
No. 30: Sylvie Lamontagne
No. 38: Sreeniketh A. Vogoti
No. 74: Jashun Paluru
No. 114: Mitchell A. Robson
No. 152: Jairam Jagadeesh Hathwar
No. 229: Smrithi Upadhyayula
No. 232: Nihar Saireddy Janga