Spell Bee

Scripps National Spelling Bee

The Scripps National Spelling Bee, originally known as the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee, is an annual spelling competition held in the United States. Managed by The E. W. Scripps Company, this not-for-profit event takes place in the Washington, D.C. area, usually at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Maryland since 2011. Previously, from 1996 to 2010, it was held at the Grand Hyatt Washington in Washington D.C. The event occurs the week after Memorial Day weekend.

Scripps National Spelling Bee Logo

Scripps National Spelling Bee Logo.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee, while primarily featuring participants from the U.S., also includes competitors from other countries like The Bahamas, Canada, China, India, Ghana, Japan, Jamaica, Mexico, and New Zealand. It is open to winners of sponsored regional spelling bees from the U.S. and its territories, as well as from select overseas military bases. International participants are similarly required to be regional champions in their respective countries.

Contestants must be under fourteen years old by August 31 of the preceding year and cannot have completed the eighth grade by February 1 of the competition year. Previous winners are not allowed to compete again. The 2019 event notably ended with eight champions due to a shortage of challenging words. The 2020 competition was scheduled for May 24 but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, marking its first cancellation since 1945.


Founded in 1925 by The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, the National Spelling Bee was first won by Frank Neuhauser. It is now organized annually by The E.W. Scripps Company, except during interruptions in 1943-1945 for World War II and in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Held in late May or early June, the competition is open to students who haven't yet completed the eighth grade, reached their 15th birthday, or won a previous Bee. The event, which is the largest and longest-running educational promotion in the U.S., aims to improve spelling skills, expand vocabularies, and enhance knowledge of the English language.


As of 2019, the National Spelling Bee increased the first-place prize from $40,000 to $50,000. In the case of a tie, the combined first and second place prizes ($75,000) are split equally, awarding $37,500 to each winner. Additionally, the champion receives several other prizes, including an engraved trophy from Scripps, a $2,500 savings bond, a comprehensive reference library from Merriam-Webster, $400 worth of reference materials, and a lifetime subscription to Britannica Online Premium. Winners also receive a Nook eReader and an online course from K12 Inc.

Harini Logan, 14, from San Antonio, Texas

Harini Logan, 14, from San Antonio, Texas, holds the trophy after winning the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee held at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, June 2.

All participants receive Webster's Third New International Dictionary on CD-ROM, a $100 U.S. Savings Bond known as the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, and varying cash prizes from Scripps based on their progress, with up to $12,500 for the second-place finisher. Since 2015, contestants reaching the semi-finals are given a Microsoft Surface 3. Previously, spellers eliminated before the semi-finals received a $100 cash prize, but this has since been replaced with educational tools from Microsoft. All other prize offerings have remained consistent.


Practise your vocabulary with Spell Bee.


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