ESPN Presents the 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee Finals

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ESPN Presents the 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee Finals

ESPN networks – ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3 – will combine to present 14 hours live of the 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee Finals from Washington, D.C., on May 27-28. This is the 88th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee and ESPN’s 22nd straight year of televising the finals.

ESPN3, the live multiscreen sports network available in 92 million homes, will exclusively carry all preliminary rounds live on Wednesday (8 a.m.). Live television coverage will begin Thursday, May 28, at 10 a.m. with the semifinals on ESPN2 and WatchESPN. The competition will conclude with the Championship Finals on ESPN and WatchESPN at 8 p.m.

Throughout the competition, ESPN3 and WatchESPN will feature a second multiple-choice “Play-Along” version that gives fans a one-in-three chance to pick the correct spelling. This year’s “Play-Along” version has been enhanced to create a more integrated and immersive experience with informational boxes highlighting the word’s etymology, definition, pronunciation and part of speech, as well as live tweets, the speller’s bio and more.

The schedule:

Date Time (ET) Round Networks
Wed, May 27 8-11:45 a.m. Preliminary Round & Play-Along Version ESPN3 / WatchESPN
1:15-5:45 p.m. Preliminary Round & Play-Along Version ESPN3 / WatchESPN
Thu, May 28 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Semifinals & Play-Along Version ESPN2 / ESPN3 / WatchESPN
8-10 p.m. Championship Finals & Play-Along Version ESPN / ESPN3 / WatchESPN


Commentators: SportsCenter’s Chris McKendry; ESPN College Sports Reporter Kaylee Hartung; Word Analyst Paul Loeffler

  • Chris McKendry – The daytime SportsCenter anchor will host the telecast and serve as the Spelling Bee’s word-by-word television commentator. Before joining ESPN in 1996, McKendry was the first woman to work as a television sports anchor in Washington, D.C., while working at WJLA-TV (1994-96), the ABC affiliate.
  • Paul Loeffler – The Spelling Bee finalist represented the Merced (Calif.) Sun-Star in the 1990 Scripps National Spelling Bee, finishing among the top 13 spellers. He makes his 10th straight appearance on ESPN as the word analyst.
  • Kaylee Hartung – An award-winning college sports reporter for ESPN, Hartung made her debut as the Scripps National Spelling Bee reporter last year. Hartung, like McKendry, also worked in the nation’s capital – in CBS News’ Washington Bureau covering politics and general news prior to her transition to sports journalism. In her reporting role for ESPN, she regularly appears onSportsCenter and SEC Nation, SEC Network’s traveling Saturday morning pregame show.

ESPN Spelling Bee production highlights:

  • The Spelling Bee Finals production open will feature a spoken word piece by J. Ivy, a performance poet who earned a Grammy Award for his stylings on Kanye West’s debut album The College Dropout;
  • Best of the Bee – Highlights from the most memorable moments from ESPN’s two decades of National Spelling Bee Finals;
  • Dr Jacques Bailly – the National Spelling Bee’s pronouncer shows his lighter side in a spoof commercial;
  • Mini-profiles of several select champion spellers, highlighting their hobbies and aspirations;
  • In-depth profiles of select champion spellers – Gokul Venkatachalam from Chesterfield, Mo., (sponsored by Louis Post-Dispatch) who finished third in 2014; Sam Pereles from Waynesboro, Va., (The News-Virginian and The Daily Progress), in his third Scripps National Spelling Bee Finals; and Vanya Shivashankar from Olathe, Kansas, (The Olathe News), who finished in fifth place in 2013 and is a sibling to the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee winner Kavya Shivashankar.


The Scripps National Spelling Bee is the nation’s largest and longest-running educational program. The purpose of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is to help students improve spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all of their lives. Visit for more information about the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which is administered on a not-for-profit basis by The E.W. Scripps Company.

The 88th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee will feature 285 champion spellers, ranging in age from nine to 15. Spellers qualify for the national competition by winning locally sponsored spelling contests in their respective communities. The champion spellers who travel to Washington, D.C., represent all 50 U.S. states, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Department of Defense Schools in Europe; also, the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.

For more information and real-time results for all segments of competition are provided at the Spelling Bee’s official website.

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Media Contacts:
ESPN – Mac Nwulu [email protected] 860-766-4196
Scripps National Spelling Bee – Valerie Miller [email protected] 513-545-6474

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