The Scripps National Spelling Bee kicked off May 29, 2012 with Round One Test in the Maryland Ballroom at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. With 278 of the best spellers in the country competing for the grand prize.
On Wednesday, May 30, 2012 each speller got the chance to spell two words during the preliminary rounds. Their scores will be combined with scores from a 50-word computer test to determine the field of no more than 50 semifinalists which will take place on Thursday, May 31, 2012.
The Scripps Spelling Bee has an age limit of 15 years old, but doesn’t have a lower age limit. Spellers can then compete until they’re 15, or until they’ve completed eighth grade.
This year, 6-year-old Lori Anne Madison of Lake Ridge, Virginia is the youngest spelling bee contestant hoping for the championship. Her mother, Sorina Madison told Fox News, “She’s like a teenager in a 6-year-old body. Her brain, she understands things way ahead of her age.”
Lori Anne spelled “dirigible” with ease on Wednesday after asking for the definition and hearing it used in a sentence. On the way back to her seat, she gave high-fives with other spelling bee contestants.
When Lori Anne spelled “vaquero” to win the regional bee in Prince William County in March, she set a new standard for youth in the national bee’s 87-year history and her mother was shocked.
Lori Anne’s mother, Sorina Madison said, “It was shocking. I didn’t expect all the media attention. We’re private people. We’re regular people. It was intimidating. But I’m happy for her. She loves it and she does it because it’s a passion, and we never push her into anything and want her to make her own choices.”
The 85th Scripps National Spelling Bee champion wins a $30,000 cash prize from Scripps, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond from Merriam-Webster and a $5,000 scholarship from the Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation, a Nook Color and other prizes, according to the Scripps National Spelling Bee website.
Other Spelling Bee Champions received gifts from Scripps:
- Participated only in the Preliminaries: $100 gift card
- Participated in the Semifinals but not in the Championship Finals: $500 gift card
- Misspell in the first round of the Championship Finals to seventh place: $1,500
- Sixth Place: $2,000
- Fifth Place: $2,500
- Fourth Place: $3,000
- Third Place: $7,500
- Second Place: $12,500
- First Place: $30,000
The spelling bee is held by the media group E.W. Scripps Company and other sponsors and is being broadcast live by ESPN.
Last year’s winner was 14-year-old Sukanya Roy from South Abington Township, Pennsylvania, who spelled “cymotrichous,” used to describe having wavy hair.