Scripps Spelling Bee: How To Lose The Contest And Not Walk Away Empty-Handed

What are the chances of winning the Scripps National Spelling Bee?

According to the Scripps website, over 11 million students participate in this popular National Spelling Bee contest each year. Therefore, to say that the average contestant has a "one in a million" chance at winning the entire event is highly inaccurate.

Every year, however, there is one person who beats the odds, advances all the way to the grand stage of the Spelling Bee finals, seals the deal with their final word after an exhausting contest and walks away with a trophy and their name in the history books. Does this mean that the other 10,999,999 wasted their time and walked away with nothing to show for it? Absolutely not!

When highlighting the contest rules on its website, Scripps shined a spotlight on exactly what the National Spelling Bee winner receives (in addition to the championship title and bragging rights.) He or she actually receives prizes from 3 different organizations - Scripps, Merriam-Webster, and Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • Scripps: $40,000 cash prize and official engraved trophy
  • Merriam-Webster: $2,500 U.S. Savings bond and complete reference library
  • Encyclopedia Britannica: $400 of reference works and 3-year Brittanica Online Premium membership
In addition to the various news stations that cover the event, the Spelling Bee winner will also receive special treatment with a trip to New York City to appear as the Scripps National Spelling Bee champion on LIVE with Kelly. Even the school and sponsor of the young champion receives Scripps National Spelling Bee engraved plaques on behalf of the newly crowned champion.

It may seem as if all of the other participants who made it to the finals but fell short of the championship glory walk away with nothing. Fortunately, the Scripps website makes it clear that it is not the case.

All of the finalists (even those who do not place in the top five) receive an official media from Scripps. Based on the prize list published on the website, all finalists that at least make it to Round 4 will walk away with a substantial prize for their effort. For example, if you misspell a word and lose between Rounds 4 and 6, you will receive a $500 gift card to go along with that participation medal that all of the finalists receive.

From that point forward, it is an intense game of survival - round after round, word after word. Fortunately, ending the contest in at least 7th place allows you to walk away with a nice-sized cash prize as a take-home souvenir:

  • 7th: $2,000
  • 6th: $2,500
  • 5th: $5,000
  • 4th: $10,000
  • 3rd: $20,000
  • 2nd: $30,000
Even if you are not able to make it that far in the competition, what you are able to gain and learn from the experience itself still means that you did not waste your time by getting involved. Scripps National Spelling Bee Executive Director Paige Kimble shared the organization's mission and overall objective in a statement published on the Scripps website.
"We want to help students be the best readers, writers, speakers and listeners. Before our students were great spellers, they were great readers. Our mission is to give kids the tools they need to learn and our new year-round relationship with [Amazon] Kindle will enable us to expand our reach to parents, teachers and children to reinforce the message that early reading leads to great spelling and vocabulary."
Although a relatively short list of participants walk away with tangible prizes and payments for their involvement in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, it is still admirable to consider the intangible prizes of engagement, education, and excellence that will forever impact their lives as a result.

[Featured Image by Cliff Owen/AP Photos]