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Scripps National Spelling Bee announces 11 Finalists

June 28, 2021 By Rebecca McCarter

The 2021 Finalists will advance to the July 8 Finals, televised live at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2

CINCINNATI – After skillfully advancing through all virtual rounds of the national competition, 11 spellers will compete for the champion title during the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee Finals on July 8.

The final rounds of this year’s Bee will be hosted in person at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida, and will be broadcast live in prime time on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET.

On their path to the Finals, the 2021 Finalists advanced successfully through three levels of virtual competition this year: The Preliminaries on June 12, the Quarterfinals on June 15 and the Semifinals on June 27. The competition’s virtual Semifinals kicked off Sunday, June 27, at 7 p.m. The 30 remaining spellers competed in a suspenseful three rounds: Two spelling rounds and a word meaning round.

“We are honored to introduce our 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee Finalists. Round after round, this group of spellers proved their mettle, and we look forward to seeing them show off their knowledge and hard work as they square off against the dictionary on the national stage,” said Dr. J. Michael Durnil, executive director of the Bee. “Congratulations to all of this year’s 209 national qualifiers – they’ve persevered over a year that has been challenging in many ways, and our team is proud to have witnessed their journey.”

The 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee Finalists are:

  • Roy Seligman, 12, from Nassau, The Bahamas. Sponsored by The Ministry of Education.
  • Bhavana Madini, 13, from New York. Sponsored by NYC Regional Spelling Bee.
  • Sreethan Gajula, 14, from Charlotte, North Carolina. Sponsored by the Carolina Panthers.
  • Ashrita Gandhari, 14, from Leesburg, Virginia. Sponsored by Loudoun County Public Schools.
  • Avani Joshi, 13, from Loves Park, Illinois. Sponsored by Boone-Winnebago Regional Office of Education.
  • Zaila Avant-garde, 14, from New Orleans. Sponsored by New Orleans Chapter of The Links.
  • Vivinsha Veduru, 10, from Fort Worth, Texas. Sponsored by Texas Christian University.
  • Dhroov Bharatia, 12, from Dallas. Sponsored by Dallas Sports Commission.
  • Vihaan Sibal, 12, from Waco, Texas. Sponsored by Rapoport Holdings, LLC.
  • Akshainie Kamma, 13, from Austin, Texas. Sponsored by West Austin Chamber of Commerce.
  • Chaitra Thummala, 12, from San Francisco. Sponsored by Bay Area Regional Spelling Bee.

During the in-person Finals on July 8, the Bee will have the option of activating a spell-off if needed. The spell-off would be activated in the closing minutes of the competition if a champion has not yet been declared in a traditional, one-person, one-word round.

The 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion will receive:

  • $50,000 cash prize
  • Commemorative medal and the Scripps Cup, the official championship trophy of the Scripps National Spelling Bee
  • $2,500 cash prize and reference library from the Bee’s dictionary partner Merriam-Webster
  • $400 of reference works, including a 1768 Encyclopædia Britannica Replica Set and a three-year membership to Britannica Online Premium

As the country continues to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and communities and industries update associated guidelines, the in-person portion of the competition at ESPN Wide World of Sports will not be open to spectators. Spellers and Bee officials will follow health and safety protocols, including physical distancing. Scripps also has consulted on COVID-19-related health and safety protocol with medical experts at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to facilitate a responsible experience for all.

To ensure equal access to the virtual elements of the 2021 national competition, the Bee used a technology vendor to create a level playing field and virtual competition space beginning with the Preliminaries. Spellers received laptops provided by the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and a proctor was onsite with each of them.

Connecting spellers throughout the competition is a virtual event platform, providing access to a series of activities designed to engage and celebrate the 209 national qualifiers during their Scripps National Spelling Bee journey, including: a virtual scavenger hunt, escape room game, songwriting experience, a Q&A with author Tae Keller and a Penguin Random House author panel.

For the first time, the Bee is inviting audiences to view special events including the upcoming pre-show for the Finals on Thursday, July 8, at 7:30 p.m., and the awards ceremony on Sunday, July 11, at 3 p.m. Audiences can access these livestreams, as well as past virtual events such as the opening ceremony and a presentation from the Bee’s dictionary partner Merriam-Webster, on Facebook and YouTube. More information is available at spellingbee.com. 

Find more information and meet the 11 Finalists competing for this year’s title at spellingbee.com. Media interested in interviews with the Finalists can contact Rebecca.McCarter@scripps.com. 

Follow all the action leading up to and during the Finals on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Photos from the Semifinals and Finals will be available on the Scripps National Spelling Bee’s official Flickr page at flickr.com/scrippsbee/. 

About the Scripps National Spelling Bee:
The Scripps National Spelling Bee is the nation’s largest and longest-running educational program, having launched in 1925. 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 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
The E.W. Scripps Company (NASDAQ: SSP) is a diversified media company focused on creating a better-informed world. As the nation’s fourth-largest local TV broadcaster, Scripps serves communities with quality, objective local journalism and operates a portfolio of 61 stations in 41 markets. The Scripps Networks reach nearly every American through the national news outlets Court TV and Newsy and popular entertainment brands ION, Bounce, Grit, Laff and Court TV Mystery. Scripps is the nation’s largest holder of broadcast spectrum. Scripps runs an award-winning investigative reporting newsroom in Washington, D.C., and is the longtime steward of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Founded in 1878, Scripps has held for decades to the motto, “Give light and the people will find their own way.”

Contacts:  
For questions or general inquiries:
513-977-3040 
Spellingbee.com/contact
Twitter.com/ScrippsBee 

Media contact:
Rebecca McCarter, 513-410-2425, Rebecca.mccarter@scripps.com