Son of National Spelling Bee champ hopes to make history

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Son of National Spelling Bee champ hopes to make history
Son of National Spelling Bee champ hopes to make history

OXON HILL, Md. (AP) – This year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee has drawn the largest number of competitors in its history, 516 spellers, but the field gets much smaller Wednesday with the announcement of the 50 or so spellers who will make Thursday’s finals.

Among the competitors is 12-year-old Atman Balakrishnan, who has tough shoes to fill. His own father was the first Indian American to win the spelling bee, back in 1985. Now a doctor in Illinois, Balu Nataranjan recalls that he won by spelling the word “milieu,” hardly tough enough for today’s competition.

He says speller’s back then could win by memorizing about 10,000 words, but that won’t cut it today: He says “now the kids who win have to know somewhere between 40-and-80,000 words.”

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Follow Ben Nuckols on Twitter at https://twitter.com/APBenNuckols

Dr. Balu Natarajan, right, from Hinsdale, Ill., poses for a photograph with his son Atman Balakrishnan, 12, as they look at Dr. Natarajan’s winning word, at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Tuesday, May 29, 2018, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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