Three young men from North Texas are sharing the title of National Spelling Bee Champion with five others after exhausting a list of words in the final round of competition Thursday.
Sohum Sukhatanker, a 13-year-old 7th grader from Dallas; Abhijay Kodali, a 12-year-old 6th grader from Flower Mound; and Rohan Raja, a 13-year-old 7th grader from Irving, are among the first group to share the title in the bee's 92-year history.
The three champions are no strangers to the bee -- they all competed in the 2018 National Spelling Bee as well and they said earlier this week they were hoping to bring the title back to the Metroplex.
This year was Sohum's third trip to the National Spelling Bee and it was the second for Abhijay and Rohan. In 2018, Rohan made the finals while Sohum dropped out in the 6th round and Abhijay lost in the 16th round. Fellow North Texans Karthik Nemmani, an 8th grader from McKinney, was the sole champion in 2018 while second place went to Naysa Modi, a 7th grader from Frisco.
“This is a night to celebrate the remarkable academic achievement of a group of the world’s most talented spellers,” said Paige Kimble, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. “These spellers have conquered the dictionary unequivocally with their ability, skill and command of the English language. It’s an incredible achievement, and we salute all the years of hard work and dedicated study that brought these intelligent young people to the world stage. We congratulate them all.”
The bee's organizers said all of the co-champions will be awarded a trophy and a cash prize of $50,000.
Sharing the cup with the three winners from North Texas are 14-year-old Erin Howard, an 8th grader from Huntsville, Alabama; 13-year-old Rishik Gandhasri, a 7th grader from San Jose, California; 13-year-old Shruthika Padhy, an 8th grader from Cherry Hill, New Jersey; 13-year-old Saketh Sundar, an 8th grader from Clarksville, Maryland; and 13-year-old Christopher Serrao, a 7th grader from Whitehouse Station, New Jersey
The competition began Monday with 562 spellers, the largest field in the bee's history.