2012 will be a record-setting year for the Scripps National Spelling Bee

Mon, May 21, 2012 by Mike Hickerson

The 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee is the stage where international attention will shine on young spellers vying for the coveted title of champion. 

That includes spellers such as Arvind Mahankali, the New York City seventh grader, who is returning to the nation’s capital region for the third time after reaching the top ten in the past two Bees; and Lori Anne Madison, the second grader from Virginia, who has shattered the record as the youngest competitor in the history of the Bee at just six years old. 

For the 85th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee, the contestants are as exciting, diverse and complex as the words they will attempt to spell. In a competition where letters and words reign supreme, the numbers cannot be ignored. The program started with more than 11 million students participating in locally sponsored spelling bees in their home communities. Students advanced through district and regional levels to qualify for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Now 278 students will battle it out through the Preliminaries. Based on points earned during the first three rounds, the spellers who score higher than 228 other spellers will advance to the Semifinals. After a few more rounds, the number of spellers will dwindle down to a dozen or so who make it to the Championship Finals. From those many millions, only one will rise to the top as national champion.

Bee Week

The first day of competition for the Bee begins Tuesday, May 29, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md. The Bee is returning this year to a computerized test for Round One of the Preliminaries.

For Rounds Two and Three of the Preliminaries, participants will have the opportunity to spell onstage on Wednesday, May 30. The spellers with the best results in the Preliminaries will qualify for the Semifinals on Thursday, May 31.

The 278 spellers represent all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Europe. Spellers also come from the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

Staying connected with the Bee

Nationwide, Bee fans can follow along with live broadcasts, online coverage and social media:

  • For the 19th consecutive year, ESPN will provide coverage of the spelling rounds.
  • ESPN will broadcast live the Championship Finals Thursday, May 31, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. EDT.  Sage Steele will host.
  • ESPN2 will broadcast live the Semifinals on Thursday, May 31 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT. Sage Steele will host.
  • ESPN3.com will stream the Preliminaries 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 30.
  • Bee staff will post round results on spellingbee.com and at twitter.com/ScrippsBee in real time on May 30 and 31.


The national champion wins a $30,000 cash prize, an engraved trophy and one of the final print editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica among other prizes. All students will receive varying amounts of cash prizes depending on where they finish in the academic showcase.

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 spellingbee.com for more information about the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which is administered on a not-for-profit basis by The E.W. Scripps Company.

About Scripps

Scripps (www.scripps.com) delivers quality journalism and creates valuable marketing environments through television stations, newspapers and a growing menu of digital products and services that now includes social games. Creative and mission-driven employees "give light so the people can find their own way" at 19 television stations in major U.S. markets and at newspapers in 13 markets.

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