13-year-old speller from Dallas, Texas, wins 76th Annual Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee

Thu, May 29, 2003 by Mark Kroeger

WASHINGTON – Sai R. Gunturi, a 13-year-old speller from Dallas, Texas, won the 76th Annual Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee today. Sai was named the National Spelling Bee Champion in the 15th round after correctly spelling the word “pococurante,” which is defined as “not concerned, indifferent or nonchalant.” Sai is the son of Sarma and Lakshmi Gunturi of Dallas. He represented The Dallas Morning News in this year’s competition. This was the fourth National Spelling Bee in which Sai competed. He tied for seventh place in 2002, tied for 16th place in 2001 and tied for 32nd place in 2000.The spelling competition began Wednesday with 251 competitors who qualified to compete in the national spelling bee by winning locally sponsored bees in their home communities. Richard A. Boehne, executive vice president of The E. W. Scripps Company, declared Sai the national champion and awarded him the engraved National Spelling Bee Championship loving cup immediately after the winning word was correctly spelled. “Each year we host the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee to celebrate academic excellence,” Boehne said. “Our congratulations to Sai Gunturi, who survived 15 rounds to emerge as the 2003 national champion. We also extend our congratulations to all of the top spellers who participated in this year's competition.”The Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee is administered on a not-for-profit basis by Scripps, which is headquartered in Cincinnati, and 243 newspaper sponsors in local communities across the country. The competition was held in the Independence Ballroom at the Grand Hyatt Washington. Round-by-round results can be reviewed at the National Spelling Bee Web site, spellingbee.com.As the national champion, Sai receives a $12,000 cash award, an engraved loving cup, and from Encyclopedia Britannica, one set of the Encyclopedia Britannica, one set of the Great Books of the Western World, and the 2002 Britannica CD. He also receives a $1,000 U.S. savings bond and a reference library from Merriam-Webster. All of the students who competed in the national spelling bee received cash prizes ranging from $75 to the $12,000 championship prize. All spellers also receive a commemorative watch from the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee and the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, which consists of a $100 EE U.S. Savings Bond. Finishing second in this year’s competition was Evelyn Blacklock of Tuxedo Park, N.Y. Evelyn is the daughter of Bonnie Blacklock and Michael Collins and represented the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, N.Y. Evelyn receives a cash prize of $6,000. Celebrating its 125th anniversary, The E.W. Scripps Company is a diverse media concern with interests in newspaper publishing, broadcast television, national television networks, interactive media and television-retailing. Scripps operates 21 daily newspapers, 10 broadcast TV stations, four cable and satellite television programming services and a home shopping network. All of the company’s media businesses provide content and advertising services via the Internet.Scripps Networks brands include Home & Garden Television, Food Network, DIY -- Do It Yourself Network and Fine Living. Home & Garden and Food Network each can be seen in about 80 million U.S. television households. Scripps Networks is home to three of the Internet’s most popular Web sites – foodtv.com, hgtv.com and diynet.com. Scripps Networks programming can be seen in 33 countries. The company’s home shopping subsidiary, Shop At Home Network, markets a growing range of consumer goods directly to television viewers and visitors to the Shop At Home Web site, shopathometv.com. Shop At Home reaches about 46 million full-time equivalent U.S. households.Scripps also operates Scripps Howard News Service and United Media, which is the worldwide licensing and syndication home of PEANUTS and DILBERT.