OXON HILL, Md. — A Maryland 13-year-old is one of eight kids to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Saketh Sundar correctly spelled "bougainvillea" to secure his spot as a co-champion.
He is the first winner from the state of Maryland ever.
Eight kids won together after 20 rounds of spelling.
The finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee began Thursday with 50 kids on stage competing for more than $50,000 in cash and prizes and a new, custom-designed trophy.
Thursday's early finalists include nine spellers who finished in at least a tie for 10th last year.
Sundar, of Clarksville, Md., about 5 miles west of Columbia, qualified for Thursday night's Round 9. He started Round 4 Thursday with the correct spelling of "rescissory," having the effect of revoking, annulling or canceling; Round 5 with "periphyton," organisms that live attached to underwater surfaces; Round 6 with "cardoncillo," a tropical American cactus used for food and fuel; Round 7 with "attrahent," a substance used to draw in insects and other animals; and Round 8 with "bremsstrahlung," a type of electromagnetic radiation.
In Round 4, the first round of the finals, the word "ergodic" — relating to a process in which every sequence or sizable sample is equally representative of the whole statistically — knocked out Anson Cook, 12, of Potomac, Md. The eighth-grader at Cabin John Middle School competed last year, tying for 34th place.
Saketh has been among the top 50 spellers the previous three years, tying for 46th place in 2016, tying for 12th place in 2017 and tying for 19th place in 2018. Students can't compete after eighth grade and can't be older than 15.
No previous national champion has come from Maryland; two have hailed from Virginia.
The winner of this year was slated to receive $52,500 in cash, a trophy and reference materials from Merriam-Webster and Encyclopaedia Britannica, plus trips to New York City and Hollywood for TV talk show appearances.
No word exactly yet on how that will be divided among the eight winners.
This year's bee had the biggest field ever, with 562 spellers, more than half of whom got in through Scripps' wild-card program. Last year was the first time that wild cards were allowed into the bee, and the eventual champion was a wild card.
Among the competitors was one speller from the District of Columbia, 20 from Maryland, 24 from Virginia and six from West Virginia.
The first national spelling bee was organized in 1925 but didn't have competitions from 1943 to 1945 during World War II. This year marks its 92nd year.
The past 14 champions and 19 of the past 23 have been Indian-American.
This story has been updated.