Co-champion Sriram Hathwar on co-champions

When Sriram Hathwar shared the championship with Ansun Sujoe last year, the last spelling bee tie was in 1962.

So Sriram, who came to cheer on his brother, Jairam, was not expecting another joint victory. Until he was.

"It seems like a once-in-a-lifetime experience," he said. "Then I thought there was an 80 percent chance."

Having joint champions is great for the bee, Sriram said, because it makes spellers know that hard work can pay off and joint championships are possible.

The first sibling champions

Vanya Shivashankar, speller 90, has been coming to the bee since she was four years old. When she took the co-championship Thursday, she became the first sibling to win the top prize. Her sister, Kavya, was the 2009 champion.

"I never understood how nervous my parents were until I had to sit and watch Vanya," said Kavya, who just finished her sophomore year at Columbia University. "Being in the audience is nerve-wracking."

Kavya said she never had any doubt that her sister knew what she was doing. Vanya was the best-prepared she'd ever been, Kavya said.

Chatting with Vanya and Gokul after the bee

Gokul Venkatachalam, speller 140, wore Jordans on his feet and a LeBron James jersey under his shirt as he spelled his way to the co-championship.

"LeBron James and Michael Jordan represent two of the greatest to play and compete," he said after taking the trophy. "I just wanted to do something cool to help remember the moment."

Gokul and Vanya Shivashankar, speller 90, have been spelling together for years.

"We all started when we barely knew any words," Gokul said.

The champions speak

"This is a dream come true, I can't believe I'm up there, I've wanted this for a long time," said Vanya Shivashankar, co-champion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Her winning word was "scherenschnitte." She dedicated the win to her grandmother, who died in 2013.

"I'm literally ecstatic right now," she said.

Co-champion Gokul Venkatachalam, speller 140, said he had worked for six years to get to this point.

"I'm finally happy to have success," he said.

Vanya is the first sibling to win the championship. Her sister, Kavya, was the 2009 winner.


We have co-champions for the second year in a row!

Gokul Venkatachalam, speller 140, correctly spelled "nunatak." He and Vanya Shivashankar, speller 90, will share the championship.

Vanya is a five-time competitor and Gokul is a four-time competitor. Both are previous finalists. Vanya's sister was the champion in 2009.

They're on a roll

Vanya Shivashankar, speller 90, has correctly spelled: bouquetière, thamakau, tantième, urgrund, myrmotherine, zimocca, hippocrepiform and scacchite since Cole was eliminated.

Gokul Venkatachalam, speller 140, has correctly spelled: caudillismo, scytale, cypseline, filicite, sprachgefühl, nixtamal, paroemiology and pipsissewa since Cole left the stage.

There are only six words left on the championship list

No nemesis

Gokul Venkatachalam, speller 140, said he didn't have the same German nemesis as a previous champion, Arvind Mahankali.

"I wasn't plagued by the same problems," he said.

He spelled "sprachgefühl" correctly.