Finals of National Spelling Bee begin with 40 elite spellers

OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — The best of the best at the Scripps National Spelling Bee have begun the unforgiving final day of the competition.

Forty spellers sat on stage at the beginning of Thursday’s final round. The field of 291 spellers was narrowed by a written test on Tuesday and spelling on stage on Wednesday. Among those who didn’t make the cut because of the test was 6-year-old Edith Fuller, the youngest speller in the history of the bee.

Spellers are competing for a trophy and more than $40,000 in cash and prizes. After three consecutive years of ties, the bee is likely to identify a sole champion this year because it added a tiebreaker test.

Once there are about 10 spellers left, the competition will pause until the primetime finale.