Harini Logan is the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Champion after a historic stretch
History was made Thursday night when 14-year-old Harini Logan won the first-ever spell at the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The San Antonio, Texas native received a trophy and a check for $50,000.
Harini faced 12-year-old Vikram Raju in the spell, a format that tested contestants on how many words they could spell correctly in 90 seconds.
Harini spelled 21 out of 26 words correctly, while Vikram got 15 out of 19 words correct.
“I honestly think it’s so surreal, this is my fourth time at the Bee,” Harini said onstage holding the trophy. “It’s such a dream, it’s my fourth bee and I’m so overwhelmed.”
About the very first spell, Harini said, “At first I was a little uncomfortable and decided to take it without momentum… I just had to take a deep breath and tell myself to go out there and do my best and whatever happens, happens.
The Spelling Bee, which features elementary and middle school students spelling words that would trip up most adults, has had a tumultuous few years.
Due to Covid-19, the competition was canceled in 2020 – a significant shake-up for what is billed as the country’s largest and oldest educational program. (The National Spelling Bee was launched in 1925.)
The bee returned last year, but with a few changes. The event featured three rounds completed virtually, rather than in person, with 209 contestants – up from 562 in 2019. The finals were then held in person at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida, rather than the National Harbor in the Maryland, where the event had usually been held in recent years.
Although still down from pre-pandemic numbers, this year started with 234 applicants, an increase from last year. Of those who started only 12 competed in Thursday’s final competition.
Another big change this year was the television broadcast of the Bee. Despite nearly three decades on ESPN, the competition aired on ION and Bounce. ESPN has been the home of the Scripps National Spelling Bee since 1994, longer than any current contestants are alive.
The preliminary rounds began on Tuesday, while the quarter-finals and semi-finals took place on Wednesday.
This year’s host was LeVar Burton. The Emmy and Grammy award winner hosted the semi-final and final of the event.
In a statement in December, Burton called the position an “honour.”
“Like many people, I look forward to the competition every year and am thrilled to be part of this wonderful tradition that celebrates excellence,” he said.