There were 293 spellers in the Scripps National Spelling Beethis year. And when Kavya Shivashankar won it last night with Laodicean, I said, "I told you so."
For the fourth straight year, a speller that I identified as being among the favorites, won the contest. On Tuesday, I told you Kavya was my No. 1 choice.
Having mastered the art of doing this, I'm willing to share, since it's not going to make me money anytime soon. The secret? Go with kids that have made it deep into the later rounds on the stage at the Grand Hyatt before. No one comes out of nowhere. Notice that eight of the 11 kids who made it to the Finals last night were in their final year of eligibility.
The next best indicator might be that the speller who will win will likely be of Indian descent. That's been the case with seven out of the last 11 champions.
The hardest part for you is the last thing I do: I watch film. I look at the previous year's Bee and note how nervous certain contestants seem to be, how much time they use up and how often they react as if their spelling of a word is a complete guess.
If you look at last year's broadcast, all my picks from this year were people who had no trouble spelling under pressure and never lost composure.
Having said all this, gamblers also have to go with their gut sometimes. And my real early favorite for next year is definitely a gut pick. Her name is Veronica Penny. If she wins, she'll be the first Canadian to ever win. She came in 25th place last year and 17th place this year and spells with a penny in her shoe.
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