"Taoiseach" nails kid a cash prize

Spelling bee ends in a tie for third year running after a epic 25 round battle

Nihar Janga, The Scripps National Spelling Bee, Jairam Hathwar, ESPN

Spelling Bee ends in tie

Correctly spelling the word, 'Taoiseach' has netted an eleven-year old Texan $45,000 plus a trip to New York, as co-winner of The Scripps National Spelling Bee.

When was asked to spell 'Taoiseach' the fifth grader asked, "Is that an Irish word for prime minister?" before zipping out the letters as the crowd cheered on.


Nihar Janga is the youngest ever winner of the award, while his co-victor Jairam Hathwar follows in his siblings footsteps. His older brother, Sriram, won in 2014.

Nihar twice had a chance to win the title outright-a feat not achieved in the past three contests, but fluffed the spelling allowing Jairam room to breathe. When he correctly spelled “feldenkrais,” a method of education -and Nihar spelled “gesellschaft,” a type of social relationship, the event was deemed a tie, after a 25-round spell-off.

Nihar said he did not feel pressure to become the youngest winner as most of the crowd's attention was on an even younger speller: six-year-old Akash Vukoti.

"He did pretty good for a first-grader," Nihar said. "He's going to go places."

The finalists were determined from more than 280 competitors after two days of written and oral tests, and was televised live on ESPN. Jairam and Nihar are the ninth consecutive spellers of South Asian ancestry, and the 12th in 16 years, to win the Bee.