The 85th Scripps National Spelling Bee saw it’s youngest competitor in the tournament’s history, a 6-year-old from Lake Ridge, Va., breeze through the first round by correctly spelling the word “Dirigible.” The second round, however, proved to be more challenging.
The girl, Lori Anne, was assigned the word “ingluvies,” meaning “the crop of a bird or insect.” She started to spell it with an “e” as the first letter, which was incorrect, leading to her elimination before she had a chance to participate in Thursday’s semifinals and finals.
Lori Anne beat out 21 other spellers to win the 34th Prince William County Spelling Bee earlier this year, earning her a spot in the prestigious Scripps Spelling Bee. She was the youngest participant in the Prince William County contest as well.
In March, she commented to ABC News, “I have been in competitions with older kids before and I have many friends, some younger and some older, and I feel comfortable in any group.”
She also explained that her love of spelling began when she was only 3 years old, saying, “I started reading very early and I read a lot, and that helps. Plus, I work hard and love to find new interesting words in the dictionary.”
Even ESPN personalities turned to the little girl for spelling help. ESPN’s Samantha Steele — appearing as contestant No. 279 — called on Lori Anne when she was asked to spell the word “slobberhannes.” Steele asked, “Lori Anne, any help back here…You know? No? You’re not helping me out?”
The girl replied, “I think it’s a joke,” but the two held hands as Steele tried to spell the word.
In addition to the title of world’s greatest speller, the winner of the competition receives more than $40,000 in cash and prizes.