The 2021 finalists will advance to the July 8 Finals, televised live at 8 pm ET on ESPN2.
Nine Indian American kids are among 11 spellers who will compete for the champion title during the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee Finals on July 8 after skillfully advancing through all virtual rounds.
America’s largest and longest-running educational program has been dominated for a dozen years by Indian Americans with seven of the eight winners of the last competition in 2019 being of Indian descent.
Five of the nine Indian American finalists have previous bee experience.
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, according to a Bee press release.
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,” Dr. J. Michael Durnil, executive director of the Bee stated.
“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 nine Indian American finalists are:
Bhavana Madini, 13, from New York. Sponsored by NYC Regional Spelling Bee. She previously competed in 2019 (tied for 51st place).
Sreethan Gajula, 14, from Charlotte, North Carolina. Sponsored by the Carolina Panthers.
READ: On-air tests for 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee spellers (April 20, 2021)
Ashrita Gandhari, 14, from Leesburg, Virginia. Sponsored by Loudoun County Public Schools. She previously competed in 2017 (tied for 35th place), 2018 (tied for 42nd place) and 2019 (tied for 51st place).
Avani Joshi, 13, from Loves Park, Illinois. Sponsored by Boone-Winnebago Regional Office of Education. He previously competed in 2019 (tied for 370th place).
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. He previously competed in 2018 (tied for 42nd place).
Akshainie Kamma, 13, from Austin, Texas. Sponsored by West Austin Chamber of Commerce. She previously competed in 2019 (tied for 51st place).
Chaitra Thummala, 12, from San Francisco. Sponsored by Bay Area Regional Spelling Bee. She previously competed in 2019 (tied for 51st place).
The other two are: Roy Seligman, 12, from Nassau, The Bahamas. Sponsored by The Ministry of Education and Zaila Avant-garde, 14, from New Orleans. Sponsored by New Orleans Chapter of The Links.
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 Encyclopedia Britannica Replica Set and a three-year membership to Britannica Online Premium.
As the country continues to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, 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, the release said.
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 pm, and the awards ceremony on Sunday, July 11, at 3 pm.
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.