The eight history-making winners of the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee have coined a new term for themselves: octochamps.
“When this got announced, we weren’t expecting anything that could happen like octochamps,” Christopher Serrao, one of the eight champions crowned late Thursday night, said Friday on “Good Morning America.” “When it was announced, we were just so excited.”
The bee ended with ties in 2014, 2015 and 2016 — but each time it was just two winners. After this year’s competition, there were eight champions, all of whom lasted 20 rounds and were therefore named co-champions.
“It’s definitely much more special because it’s an amazing experience and you’re sharing it with seven other people who know exactly what you’re going through,” said another winner, Shruthika Padhy. “You’re sharing this experience for the rest of your life.”
“I was very happy when I realized that, yes, there was a chance that we could be octochamps,” added Sohum Sukhatankar, describing the win as the “culmination of months and even years of hard work.”
There were two girls and six boys among the group of winners. Each winner gets the $50,000 prize. No word on how the trophy will be split.
When asked what they each planned to do with the $50,000 grand prize, the eight winners said nearly in unison that they planned to save it for college.
“I think that when you reach the top 10, at the end of the day it does depend on a little bit of luck with what word you get,” said Christopher, from Allentown, Pennsylvania. “All of us together, we have like a camaraderie between each other.”
Rishik Gandhasri, a 13-year-old from San Jose, California, spelled “auslaut” to claim the first co-champion spot.
Erin Howard, a 14-year-old from Huntsville, Alabama, spelled “erysipelas” to be the second winner.
Saketh Sundar, 13, from Clarksville, Maryland, spelled “bougainvillea” to become the third to join the winning group.
Shruthika Padhy, a 13-year-old from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, spelled “aiguillette” in the final round.
Sohum Sukhatankar, from Dallas, quickly spelled “pendeloque” to join the winning group. He had finished 25th in last year’s bee.
Abhijay Kodali, a sixth grader from Flower Mound, Texas, spelled “palama” to earn the sixth spot in the winning group.
Christopher Serrao, 13, from Allentown, Pennsylvania, spelled “cernuous.”
Rohan Raja, 13, from Irving, Texas, spelled “odylic” to be the final winner.
The competition was the 92nd in history.
The winning word in the first competition was the flower “gladiolus.” The winning word spelled by Sundar in this year’s competition was “bougainvillea,” also a type of flower.