Grab Your Dictionaries! Watch ESPN’s 25th Scripps National Spelling Bee May 29-31

Miscellaneous Sports

Grab Your Dictionaries! Watch ESPN’s 25th Scripps National Spelling Bee May 29-31

NEW THIS YEAR: SportsCenter’s Matt Barrie to Host, Additional Day of Spelling Will Air Due to Record 516 Spellers

EDITOR’S NOTE:  As a way to emphasize winning words from the past years, the following press release contains five championship-winning words. Can you find them?

ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and the ESPN App will combine to present more than 24 live hours of the 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee from National Harbor, Md., on May 29 through May 31.This is ESPN’s 25th straight year of televising the finals. ESPN’s Matt Barrie will host the 91st Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee alongside 1990 finalist, Paul Loeffler.

ESPN3 will exclusively carry all preliminary rounds streaming live on the ESPN App Tuesday, May 29, beginning at 9:15 a.m. ET. Live coverage of the Finals will begin on Thursday, May 31, at 10 a.m. on ESPN2 and conclude starting at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN. Both sessions will air on ESPNU (Play Along Version) and will be streaming live on the ESPN App.

The multiple choice Play Along channel returns for its fifth year, vouchsafing fans a one-in-four chance to pick the correct spelling of the given word, allowing fans to test their meticulosity along with the spellers. The Play Along version also features informational boxes highlighting the word’s etymology, definition, intelligible pronunciation and part of speech, as well as live tweets, the speller’s bio and more. New this year at is an online interactive Play Along, a fun way for viewers to test their spelling prowess on their computer, tablet or phone.

Throughout the competition, a second-screen Play Along will be available on ESPN3 Tuesday and Wednesday, and on Thursday ESPNU, will host the Play Along Version. Other highlights:

  • New this year – An additional day of spelling: An additional day of Spelling will air Tuesday, May 29, on ESPN3 exclusively due to a record-breaking number of students who have a knack for spelling, 516 to be exact!
  • Mike Golic Jr. and Jen Lada Thursday, 8:30 p.m., May 31: In addition to the traditional coverage, ESPN’s Jen Lada and Mike Golic Jr. will host a live presentation on ESPN3. Lada and Golic Jr. will play along with the multiple-choice spelling bee experience.

The 91st Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee will feature spellers,ranging in age from 8 to 15. The champion spellers who travel to the Washington, D.C. area represent all 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense Schools in Europe; also, the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana, Italy, Jamaica, Japan,  South Korea and U.K.

Date Time (ET) Round Networks
Tues, May 29 9:15 a.m. – 12:05 p.m. Preliminary Round ESPN3
  1 p.m. – 5:20 p.m. Preliminary Round ESPN3
Wed, May 30 8 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. Preliminary Round ESPN3
  2 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Preliminary Round ESPN3
Thurs, May 31 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Finals, Opening Portion

Play Along Version



8:30 – 10:30 p.m. Finals, Closing Portion

Play Along Version



*All live streaming is available on the ESPN App

Commentators: SportsCenter’s Matt Barrie and Word Analyst Paul Loeffler Return; Mike Golic Jr. and Jen Lada participate Thursday night via Play Along Version

  • Matt Barrie – An award-winning sports reporter and versatile sports news anchor, Barrie hosts his first Scripps National Spelling Bee. Barrie anchors the 7 a.m. SportsCenter and has hosted SportsCenter on the Road, College GameDay Radio and Highlight Express on ESPNEWS.
  • Paul Loeffler – The 1990 Spelling Bee finalist represented the Merced (Calif.) Sun-Star, finishing among the top 13 spellers. He makes his 13th 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.

The 2018 National Spelling Bee by the Numbers:
2 – for the first time, there are two sets of identical twins competing
4 – spellers in the third grade (224 are in eighth grade)
6 – years that have seen co-champions, including three of the last four years (1950, 1957, 1962, 2014, 2015 and 2016)
254 – spellers have a twin, 1 is a triplet
46 – percent of spellers are girls, 54 percent are boys
65 – percent of spellers attend public school
114 – spellers are “spell-peaters” who have participated in the Scripps National Spelling Bee before
516 – record high participating in the 2018 National Spelling Bee
– dollar guerdon from Scripps for the Champion (or Champions)

Past Winning Words (6 of 9 come up as misspelled on Microsoft Word):
2017 – marocain
2016 – Feldenkrais, gesellschaft
2015 – scherenschnitte, nunatak
2014 – feuilleton, stichomythia
2013 – knaidel
2012 – guetapens

Other Difficult But Winning Words:
1962 – esquamulose
1981 – sarcophagus
1995 – xanthosis
2001 – succedaneum
2005 – appoggiatura

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 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 Bee’s official website.

Media Contacts:
ESPN – Belen Michelis [email protected]
Scripps National Spelling Bee – Valerie Miller [email protected]


*Words within release:
vouchsafing (1973): to grant or give, as by favor, graciousness or condescension
meticulosity (1950): taking or showing extreme care about minute details; precise; thorough
intelligible (1935): capable of being understood; comprehensible; clear
knack (1928): a special skill, talent or aptitude
guerdon (2008): a reward, recompense, or requital

– 30 –


Belen Michelis

Belen Michelis is a senior publicist focusing on ESPN Corporate Citizenship, Spelling Bee, Invictus Games, Warrior Games, ESPN local radio (98.7FM NY, ESPNLA 710, ESPN Chicago 1000), Misc. Sports and the WNBA. Prior to joining the ESPN Communications team, Michelis worked in Ad Sales for ESPN Deportes and International from 2010-2014. Michelis graduated from Boston College in 2010.
Back to top button