Spelling star becomes internet sensation

05:46, May 30 2014
Jacob Williamson
Jacob Williamson was pretty happy with his success while it lasted.
Alia Abiad
Alia Abiad of Western Springs, Illinois was also pleased to have her word correct.
Alia Abiad
Kate Miller, 14, of Abilene, Texas air types her word 'osteochondrous' in the finals of the Spelling Bee.
Alia Abiad
Amber Robinson of Homestead, Florida can't quite get it right during round three of the preliminaries.
Jae Canetti
Jae Canetti of Fairfax, Virginia couldn't get there with the word 'parseval', meaning, of course, a nonrigid airship.
Ansun Sujoe, left, of Texas shakes hands with co-winner Sriram Hathwar
Ansun Sujoe, left, of Texas shakes hands with co-winner Sriram Hathwar of New York.
Buddy Noorlander
Buddy Noorlander of Oneonta, New York, misses out.

Among kids who study the dictionary eight hours a day and list maths as their favourite subject, you wouldn't expect to find an entertainer.

But Jacob Williamson stole the show at the US Scripps National Spelling Bee, which features students from around the world competing for a US$30,000 (NZ$35,290) scholarship and other prizes.

Home-schooled Williamson, 15, was the oldest contestant, but appeared to be the only one comfortable acting his age.

 Joint winners Ansun Sujoe, left, of Fort Worth, Texas and Sriram Hathwar of Painted Post, New York
TOP SPELLERS: Joint winners Ansun Sujoe, left, of Fort Worth, Texas and Sriram Hathwar of Painted Post, New York, holding the trophy.

When he heard he was one of 12 finalists from 281, he dropped to his knees and pumped his fists.

He shouted "I know it!" after being given "eripus". He screamed with joy after nailing the word, and did the same after spelling "harlequinade".

Buzzfeed dubbed him "the most enthusiastic spelling bee contestant ever", sending him toward social media fame.

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But his dreams were shattered today when he was eliminated today after misspelling "kabaragoya". Cries of "I know this" quickly gave way to a look of disbelief.

Williamson told The News-Press he studied eight hours a day just to qualify for the event.

"I've been studying three years for this," he said.

He lists fantasy football and numismatism - the study of currency - as his interests.

The spelling contest meanwhile came down to a tie.

Sriram Hathwar of New York and Ansun Sujoe of Texas shared the title after the final-round duel  in which they nearly exhausted the 25 designated championship words.  

After they spelled a dozen words correctly in a row, they both were named champions.

Earlier, 14-year-old Sriram opened the door to an upset by 13-year-old Ansun after he misspelled ''corpsbruder'', a close comrade.

But Ansun was unable to take the title because he got ''antegropelos,'' which means waterproof leggings, wrong.