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Spelling Bee To Rookwood Pottery: We're Going To Need More Trophies

Mark Bowen
Scripps National Spelling Bee
For the first time in 92 competitions, the Scripps National Spelling Bee crowned eight co-champions.

In an unprecedented move, the Scripps Spelling Beecrowned eight co-champions early Friday morning. After 20 rounds of increasingly difficult words, the 2019 Spelling Bee organizers declared the final eight contestants "octochamps."

Each winner receives $50,000 and a Scripps Cup made by Cincinnati pottery company Rookwood Pottery. Images from the confetti-strewn competition floor show the winners collectively holding one trophy.

"We will be making more trophies" says Sarah Ditlinger, marketing manager with The Rookwood Pottery Co. "We'll be doing a rush order to get them in time so that each of the winners can have something special to take home and commemorate their milestone."

"Rookwood initially made three trophies for the Bee finalists, knowing that there has been a 2-way tie in the past," adds Mary Guanciale, director of product development, in a statement. "However, an 8-way tie is unprecedented and thus, we will be making additional trophies so that all eight winners can have a custom-designed piece to celebrate their milestone with a piece of art that is equally as grand as their accomplishment."

Normally creating a custom piece such as this trophy is "a very lengthy process." Ditlinger isn't sure how long it will take to create the seven additional trophies. "It's hard to know, we've never had this happen before," she says with a laugh, "we'll find out."

"They are likely to arrive at the Champions’ homes in late June/early July," Spelling Bee Communications Manager Valerie Million tells WVXU. "We will ship them in specially designed cases to keep the trophies protected."

Scripps, which is also headquartered in Cincinnati, commissioned Rookwood to create the first custom trophy in its 94-year history. The cup was designed by Mary Guanciale, hand-carved by Gary Simon, and hand-painted by artists Deborah Smith and Heidi Shannon.

Called the "Scripps Cup," it features a honeycomb interwoven with a gladiolus flower blooming from an open book and decorated with bee filigree.

"Gladiolus" was the first winning word in 1925. That competition, held in Washington D.C., featured nine contestants. An 11-year-old named Frank Neuhauser correctly spelled the flower to take home a gold medal and a $500 prize.

Credit The Rookwood Pottery Co.
Rookwood describes the Scripps Cup as symbolic of the participant’s hard work, dedication, and preparation.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.