At Scripps National Spelling Bee, 275 spellers hope to be crowned

Tue, May 03, 2011 by Eva Hollenberg

On Sunday, May 29, the Scripps National Spelling Bee will welcome 275 spelling champions and their families to the nation’s capital region for Bee Week, a program of sightseeing and entertainment surrounding the 84th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Spelling champions hail from: the 50 U.S. states, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Schools in Europe, the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. Seventy-one spellers previously have taken the stage in Washington, D.C., including three four-year repeaters.

Experience the Bee Live

Embracing its new and spacious location at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National H  arbor, Md., the Bee this year starts a new tradition by offering tickets to the general public for the Preliminaries, Semifinals and Championship Finals segments of the competition.

After 15 years of hosting the competition at the Grand Hyatt Washington in downtown Washington, D.C., the Scripps National Spelling Bee made the move to the larger Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center to accomplish its goal of opening the competition doors to the general public. 

To be a part of the live audience during the Preliminaries on Wednesday, June 1, or the Semifinals and Championship Finals on Thursday, June 2, visit Members of the media who wish to cover the event should visit to apply for a media credential.

The Competition

Competition officially will begin on Tuesday, May 31 with the written Round One Test. Spellers will sit in assigned seats at classroom-style tables while the pronouncer, Dr. Jacques Bailly, offers each of the 25 words, along with word information.

On Wednesday, June 1, the competition will continue with Rounds Two and Three of the Preliminaries between 8 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. Each speller will spell onstage twice: once in Round Two and once in Round Three. There are no eliminations for misspelling in these rounds; instead, spellers earn three points for each correctly spelled word.

Spellers’ scores on the Round One Test are combined with points earned in Rounds Two and Three to determine who qualifies for the Semifinals. No more than 50 spellers will qualify, and these qualifiers will be announced from the competition stage – and through – at approximately 5:30 p.m. on June 1. 

On Thursday, June 2, the Semifinals will air live on ESPN from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by the Championship Finals, which again prove their primetime appeal by being aired live on ESPN from 8:30 to 10 p.m.


The Bee will award more than $85,000 in cash and prizes to the 275 spellers, including a $30,000 cash prize and engraved trophy for the champion. Prizes for the champion also include:

  • From Merriam-Webster: a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and a complete reference library,
  • From Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation: a $5,000 scholarship,
  • From Encyclopaedia Britannica: $2,600 in reference works and a lifetime membership to Britannica Online Premium, and
  • From K12, Inc.: an online course and a Nook eReader. 

All spellers who participate in the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee will receive the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award—a $100 U.S. savings bond—and, from Merriam-Webster, Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, on CD ROM.

For more prize information, visit

Follow the Action

To watch the Bee live on television:

  • ESPN will broadcast the Semifinals from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, June 2.
  • ESPN will broadcast the Championship Finals from 8:30 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, June 2.
  • ESPN3 will broadcast Rounds Two and Three of the Preliminaries between 8 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1, while the competition is in session.
  • For behind-the-scenes moments leading up to the Bee, information about Bee Week, interesting facts about words, and more, visit:
  • For more information and competition updates, follow the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Twitter:

About the Scripps National Spelling Bee

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is the nation's largest and longest-running educational program. The purpose of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is to help students improve spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all of their lives. Visit for more information about the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which is administered on a not-for-profit basis by The E.W. Scripps Company. Scripps (NYSE: SSP; is a diverse media enterprise with interests in television stations, newspapers, local news and information websites, and features syndication.

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