Huntsvilles Erin Howard is co-champ of National Spelling Bee –

Huntsville\s Erin Howard is co-champ of National Spelling Bee -
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Erin Howard of Huntsville flashes a smile on May 30, 2019, at the National Spelling Bee. (Mark Bowen/Scripps National Spelling Bee)

Erin Howard of Huntsville was named a co-champion of the National Spelling Bee late Thursday night as an extraordinary field of students outlasted the bees dictionary.

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After the 17th round, officials said that all remaining spellers after the 20th round would be named co-champions. None of the spellers missed a word again with eight co-champions being crowned and each receiving the full $50,000 first prize.

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Its great to be here, Erin said just before being asked her final word. She immediately broke into a dance at the microphone when she was asked to spell erysipelas.

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Can I have the definition? an elated Howard said after being given the word. Please I beg of you.

At 11:19 p.m. EDT, speller number five, Rishik Gandhasri, asked what the time was. After nearly three hours, the spellers looked tired. But once Dr. Jacques Bailly announced after the 17th round that any speller left after the 20th round would be declared a winner, no one misspelled another word.

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Erin, who never hid her confidence in knowing the word she had to spell, made it clear before saying a letter that she knew the word and would be a co-champ. She has finished in the top 10 each of the past two years.

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Erin is only the second Spelling Bee champion from Alabama, preceded by Julie Junkin of Pickens County in 1974.

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Scripps National Spelling Bee named 8 co-champions after a historic 20 round event. Erin Howard of Huntsville is second from the left.

The words that Erin spelled during the evening session of the competition: tophet, tinaja, pallone, meerschaum, jindyworobak, zamacueca, godet, Komondor, tulisan, calembour, deixis.

ABOUT THE SCRIPPS NATIONAL SPELLING BEE  The Scripps National Spelling Bee is the nations largest and longest-running educational program. The purpose of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all 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.

Only two words seemed to give Erin pause — godet and Komondor. Otherwise, she lit up as soon as each word was announced and begin bouncing in anticipation while standing at the microphone. She usually needed only about 30 seconds to complete spelling a word after first hearing it.

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But when pronouncer Jacque Bailly gave her godet in the 15th round, there was no self-assured reaction from Erin. As she processed the definition and the language origin, she asked if the definition included small female. She quickly followed her question by saying, Please say no.

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And then she correctly spelled godet — with the apparent assurance that without small female in the definition, she could eliminate the possibility of the word ending with ette.

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She seemed stumped briefly in the next round, too, when Bailly gave her Komondor to spell. But as Bailly began giving the definition — which, in short, was a Hungarian dog — Erin seemed to almost erupt in jubilation as she realized she knew the word.

Beyond those two words, nothing seemed to phase her as she stepped into history in what Bailly described as the most phenomenal” group of spellers ever in the Spelling Bee.

WBNS-TVs on-line public inspection file can be found on the FCC website or at Individuals with disabilities may contact Becky Richey at or 614.460.3785 for assistance with access to the WBNS-TV public inspection files.

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