NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., May 27 (UPI) -- A Texas boy and New York boy took home top honors Thursday as shared champions of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Jairam Hathwar and Nihar Janga, after spelling the winning words "Feldenkrais" and "gesellschaft" respectively, were named co-champions amid a cheering crowd. Each took home a trophy and $45,000.
Despite organizers setting new rules to avoid a deadlock, this was the third tie in as many years. Jairam's brother, Sriram, was the 2014 co-champion.
When both boys realized the tie, confetti poured down on them and they were overwhelmed with congratulations from family members.
"I'm just speechless. I can't say anything. I'm only in fifth grade," Nihar said after thanking his mother.
The 89th annual bee, held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor, Md., began earlier this week with 284 contestants from around the world. By Thursday morning, after two days of written and oral tests, 45 were left. Later the same day, it was down to 10 for the evening championship, broadcast live on ESPN.
After it was down to two, the boys squared off for more than 20 rounds. Jairam gave Nihar a chance to win when he missed "drahthaar" a kind of dog. But Nihar then slipped up on "ayacahuite," a tree native to Mexico and Central America.
After several rounds with no pronounced winner, the announcer said: "This is a beautiful moment. If you both spell the next word correctly, you will be declared co-champions." When they both got their words right, the crowd burst into cheers.
Jairam's winning word, "Feldenkrais," is a form of movement-based education developed by Moshe Feldenkrais. "Gesellschaft," Nihar's final word, is a noun meaning social relationships based on impersonal connections.