National Spelling Bee Finals to be Presented by ESPN, ESPN3.com

ESPN will present live coverage of the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee Finals from Washington, D.C., beginning with the preliminary rounds Wednesday, June 1, at 8 a.m. ET, on ESPN3.com, through the semifinals and finals Thursday, June 2, on ESPN and ESPN3.com. Every speller on the stage will be featured on an ESPN network. This is ESPN’s 18th straight year of televising the Spelling Bee Finals.

SportsCenter anchor Sage Steele returns for the second straight year as host of the Spelling Bee Finals on ESPN. Paul A. Loeffler, a former Bee finalist who represented the Merced (Calif.) Sun-Star in the 1990 National Spelling Bee finals and made it up to the top 13 spellers, returns as the word analyst. Rob Stone, who has worked a variety of ESPN events such as the FIFA World Cup, college sports, bowling and Major League Soccer, will serve as reporter. Steele, Loeffler and Stone will provide television commentary for the Spelling Bee Finals Thursday at 10 a.m., during the semifinal rounds, and the finals at 8:30 p.m.

The preliminary rounds will be featured exclusively on ESPN3.com, ESPN’s sports broadband network available in 70 million homes, on Wednesday, June 1. Throughout the entire competition, ESPN3.com will carry a second “play along” version, featuring the option to view its coverage without graphics for fans at home to test their knowledge against the champion spellers.

The National Spelling Bee, the nation’s largest and longest running educational promotion, is administered on a not-for-profit basis by the E.W. Scripps Company and 270 local sponsors. The majority of local spelling bee sponsors are daily and weekly newspapers. The purpose of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is to help students improve spelling, increase vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all of their lives.

The 2011 Spelling Bee Finals will feature 275 champion spellers, ranging in age from 8 to 15. Spellers participating in the national competition qualify by winning locally sponsored spelling bees in their home communities representing the 50 U.S. states, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Department of Defense Schools in Europe; and the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

For more information and real-time results for all segments of competition are provided via the Internet at the Bee’s official website, www.spellingbee.com.

Inside the 2011 National Spelling Bee numbers . . .

  • 1 – eight-year-old in the Finals, youngest in the competition: Ethan Cullen Ruggeri, Fredericksburg, Va.
  • 2 – 2010 championship finalists – Laura Newcombe of Toronto, Ontario, and Joanna Ye, Harrisburg, Pa. – are among the 275 finalists this year
  • 3 – four-year repeaters: Rahul Malayappan, Danbury, Conn.; Nicholas B. Rushlow, Pickerington, Ohio; and Julianna M. Canabal-Rodríguez, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • 6 – fourth graders in the finals
  • 7 – finalists who have twins
  • 10 – finalists who attend charter schools
  • 16 – finalists who attend parochial schools
  • 17 – three-year repeaters
  • 51 – two-year repeaters
  • 138 – boys in the finals (137 girls)
  • 179 – finalists who attend public schools
  • 230 – finalists coached by parents and family members

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