ORLANDO, Fla. — There’s a buzz in the air because the Scripps National Spelling Bee is back, and a new champion will be named Thursday night.
Eleven spellers will compete for the title during the finals, which will be hosted in-person at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida.
You can watch the excitement from home on ESPN2 starting at 8 p.m. ET.
You may notice a few changes to this year’s spelling bee.
The last bee held in 2019 ended with a record eight winners as champions. To prevent a repeat of that, organizers have created some new rules. They’ve added vocabulary questions to the competition and a tie-breaker spell-off.
During the finals, the bee will have the option of activating the spell-off if needed. It 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.
Here are the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee finalists:
Roy Seligman, 12, from Nassau, The Bahamas
Bhavana Madini, 13, from New York
Sreethan Gajula, 14, from Charlotte, North Carolina
Ashrita Gandhari, 14, from Leesburg, Virginia
Avani Joshi, 13, from Loves Park, Illinois
Zaila Avant-garde, 14, from New Orleans
Vivinsha Veduru, 10, from Fort Worth, Texas
Dhroov Bharatia, 12, from Dallas
Vihaan Sibal, 12, from Waco, Texas
Akshainie Kamma, 13, from Austin, Texas
Chaitra Thummala, 12, from San Francisco
The 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion will receive a $50,000 cash prize, a commemorative medal and the Scripps Cup, a $2,500 cash prize and reference library from the Bee’s dictionary partner Merriam-Webster, as well as $400 of reference works, including a 1768 Encyclopædia Britannica Replica set and a three-year membership to Britannica Online Premium.
This year’s bee will also have a special guest. First lady Jill Biden will attend the finals. Immediately before the event, the White House says Dr. Biden will meet with the spellers and their families to congratulate them on their tremendous academic achievements.