81st Scripps National Spelling Bee

George W. Bush with the 2008 Champion Sameer Mishra in the Oval Office, August 13, 2008.

The 81st Scripps National Spelling Bee took place on May 30, 2008.


Two hundred eighty-eight champion spellers competed in the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., a new record. Most of the spellers were from the United States, with a small showing from other locations such as Ghana, Jamaica, New Zealand, and South Korea. Twenty-two were Canadian. Wikipedian Emily Temple-Wood was one of the competitors.[1] Sriram Hathwar, who would be a co-winner of the 2014 bee six years later, set a new record as the youngest ever participant to date, only a month past his 8th birthday.[2]


The winner was Sameer Mishra, a 13-year-old eighth grader at West Lafayette Junior-Senior High School, in Indiana. He was sponsored by his hometown newspaper, the Journal & Courier. His winning word was guerdon. He won $35,000 in cash and more than $5,000 in prizes.[3]

In rounds 3 through 15, Mishra spelled "demitasse", "quadrat", "diener", "hyssop", "macédoine", "basenji", "numnah", "chorion", "nacarat", "sinicize", "hyphaeresis", "taleggio" and "esclandre" correctly, in that order.

In a comical moment during the spelling bee, he mistook the word "numnah" for "numb nut".

Mishra incorrectly spelled "sudation" in Round 2 as "sudatian."[4] However, because a speller's combined score from Rounds 1 and 2 determines whether he or she advances in the competition, a speller can incorrectly spell a word in Round 2 without being eliminated.

TV coverage

As with previous years, coverage was divided amongst American Broadcasting Company properties, the quarter-finals were broadcast on ESPN360, and the semi-finals were aired by ESPN, and the finals were broadcast by ABC. Unlike other ESPN-produced telecasts for ABC, ESPN branding was not used, even though the telecasts adopted the newer-styled ESPN graphics package.

See also


  1. Mathie, Frank (2 June 2008). "8th-grade spellers represent Chicago area". ABC 7. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  2. (27 May 2008). 8-year-old competing in national spelling bee, Reading Eagle
  3. Joseph White (2008-05-31). "Indiana boy spells 'guerdon' to win national bee". Archived from the original on 2008-06-03. Retrieved 2008-05-31.
  4. "Scripps National Spelling Bee: Sameer Mishra". 2008-05-31. Retrieved 2008-05-31.
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