ESPN Presents the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee


ESPN Presents the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee

  • SportsCenter’s Kevin Negandhi Returns for Second Year as Host, Multiple Choice Play Along to Include Twitter Voting
  • Lunchtime with the Spelling Bee Debuts on the ESPN app
  • E:60 Profiles Six Year-Old Edith Fuller from Tulsa, Okla. – The Youngest Speller in the National Spelling Bee

ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and the ESPN app will combine to present more than 15 live hours of the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee, presented by Kindle, from National Harbor, Md., on May 31 and June 1. This is the 90th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee and ESPN’s 24th straight year of televising the finals.

The ESPN app will exclusively carry all preliminary rounds live on Wednesday, May 31, beginning at 8 a.m. ET. Live coverage of the Finals will begin on Thursday, June 1, at 10 a.m. ET on ESPN2, ESPNU (Play Along Version) and the ESPN app. The Finals competition will conclude on ESPN, ESPNU (Play Along Version) and WatchESPN at 8:30 p.m.

The multiple choice Play Along channel returns for a fourth year, giving fans a one-in-four chance to pick the correct spelling of the given word, allowing fans to compete along with the spellers. This year, on June 1, the Play Along channel will also include Twitter voting on the four multiple choice options. The Play Along version will also feature informational boxes highlighting the word’s etymology, definition, pronunciation and part of speech, as well as live tweets, the speller’s bio and more.

Throughout the competition, the ESPN app will feature the second-screen Play Along, and on Thursday, ESPNU will host the Play Along Version. Other highlights:

  • New this year – Lunchtime with the Spelling Bee: In addition to the traditional coverage featuring a new interfaced graphic look, ESPN will debut Lunchtime with the Spelling Bee – a live presentation on the ESPN app from the ESPN Cafeteria in Bristol, Conn. during the daytime live spelling rounds on Wednesday, May 31, and Thursday, June 1. The ESPN app program, hosted by Jen Lada and Mike Golic Jr., will feature ESPN personalities, employees and guests playing along with the multiple choice spelling bee experience.
  • E:60: On Sunday, May 28, at 9 a.m., ESPN’s award-winning newsmagazine E:60 will profile Edith Fuller from Tulsa, Okla., who, at five years of age is the youngest contestant to ever qualify for the Scripps National Spelling Bee Finals. Fuller, now six, is considered the latest “Spellebrity” after outlasting fellow spellers, some more than twice her age, during the nearly five-hour competition in the regional spelling bee in Eastern Oklahoma.

The 90th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee will feature 291 champion spellers, ranging in age from six to 15. Spellers qualify for the national competition by winning locally sponsored spelling contests in their respective communities. The champion spellers who travel to the Washington, D.C. area represent all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense Schools in Europe; also, the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.

Date Time (ET) Round Networks
Wed, May 31 8 – 12:15 p.m. Preliminary Round & Play Along Version ESPN App
10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Lunchtime with the Spelling Bee ESPN App
1:15 – 6:15 p.m. Preliminary Round & Play Along Version ESPN App
Thu, Jun 1 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Finals ESPN2, ESPN App
  Play Along Version ESPNU
  Lunchtime with the Spelling Bee ESPN App
8:30 – 10:30 p.m. Conclusion of Finals ESPN, ESPN App
Play Along Version ESPNU


Commentators: SportsCenter’s Kevin Negandhi and Word Analyst Paul Loeffler Return; Michele Steele Debuts as On-Site Reporter

  • Kevin Negandhi – An award-winning sports reporter and versatile sports news anchor, Negandhi returns for his second year as host of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Negandhi anchors the 7 a.m. ET SportsCenter:AM and has hosted NFL LiveBaseball TonightOutside the Lines, College Football Live, NBA Tonight and the NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four at ESPN. Negandhi is the first Indian-American to serve on a national sports network, and the first Indian-American to host the National Spelling Bee.
  • 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 12th straight appearance on ESPN as the expert word analyst. Loeffler is also the current voice of Fresno State athletics (football, basketball and baseball), and has called football and baseball for ESPN in the past.
  • Michele Steele – A Chicago-based reporter who joined ESPN in December 2011, Steele debuts as on on-site reporter for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Steele is a regular on ESPN’s NFL programming, and is thrilled to add the Bee to other events she’s covered for ESPN, including the Super Bowl, the NBA finals and March Madness. Steele takes pride in the versatility she’s shown in her career, whether that’s directing traffic as a fill-in SportsCenter anchor or filing stories for Outside the Lines.  Prior to her career as a televised sports journalist, Michele spent two years teaching English to French children in the Loire Valley of France and in Martinique.

The 2016 National Spelling Bee by the Numbers:
1 – speller is in Kindergarten (124 are in eighth grade)
6 – years that have seen co-champions, including the last three years (1950, 1957, 1962, 2014, 2015 and 2016)
15 – spellers have a twin, 1 has a triplet
29 – spellers have relatives who have participated in the National Spelling Bee
47 – percent of spellers are girls, 53 percent are boys
65.6 – percent of spellers attend public school
73 – spellers are “spell-peaters” who have attended the Scripps National Spelling Bee before
126 – spellers speak or study 38 languages other than English (including Bengali, Filipino, Mandarin, Ewe, Italian, German, Samoan, French, Hindi, Korean, Malayalam, Croatian, Norwegian, Laotian, Twi, Urdu, Vietnamese and American Sign Language)
40,000 – dollar cash prize from Scripps for the Champion (or Champions)

Past Winning Words (5 of 8 come up as misspelled on Microsoft Word):
2016 – Feldenkrais, gesellschaf
2015 – scherenschnitte, nunatak
2014 – feuilleton, stichomythia
2013 – knaidel
2012 – guetapens

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 their 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.

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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