Spelling star becomes internet sensation

KATIE KENNY
Last updated 16:47 30/05/2014
 Joint winners Ansun Sujoe, left, of Fort Worth, Texas and Sriram Hathwar of Painted Post, New York
Reuters
TOP SPELLERS: Joint winners Ansun Sujoe, left, of Fort Worth, Texas and Sriram Hathwar of Painted Post, New York, holding the trophy.

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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.

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.

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.

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