For the past three years, the Scripps National Spelling Bee has ended in a tie as two competitors, going head to head, have met in brutal linguistic battle and fought to a draw. So this year, the bee added a tiebreaker, hoping to finally break the horrifying pattern of neither finalist going home broken-hearted. Thankfully, we’ve now returned to ensuring one of two children is really sad, as the 2017 Spelling Bee had a single winner, no tiebreaker rounds needed. NBC News reports Ananya Vinay, a 12-year-old about whom the word “precocious” is surely already assumed and too-easily spelled, took home the trophy and more than $40,000 in cash and prizes, beating 14-year-old contestant Rohan Rajeev in the 21st out of 25 championship rounds.
Vinay got the opportunity to deliver the finishing blow when Rajeev incorrectly spelled “marram,” a kind of beach grass. She quickly spelled two words correctly in succession, winning on “marocain,” which is “a type of dress fabric of ribbed crepe,” and with which Vinay is more well-acquainted than you are with probably 90 percent of your surroundings. She then survived a brutal victory bum rush on the part of her father to the stage, and gave an interview in which she demonstrates a clear commitment to giving zero fucks about the pressure.
But honestly, there’s a harrowing story to be told entirely in pictures, if you scroll the coverage of the event via Getty Images. Anyone who’s seen the documentary Spellbound knows that the National Spelling Bee is high drama, only more intense because they’re all little kids, dealing with the emotional and mental equivalent of Battle Royale. So let’s peruse some of the more arresting images, because this is legitimately more harrowing stuff than most sporting events:
And finally, because it’s always good to be reminded that the Scripps National Spelling Bee demands both winners and losers, let’s end on this scarring image of what could have been avoided, if only they’d said, “You know what? 20 championship rounds is enough, you’re both winners!”