Heard on the Hill

Politicians Lose Press Club Spelling Bee to Media Again

Rep. Ted Deutch, the last politician standing, lost to Dallas Morning News’ Todd Gillman

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., smiles before being asked to spell "rubicund" at the National Press Club Spelling Bee on Tuesday. On the right is Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., and eventual winner Todd Gillman of the Dallas Morning News is at left. (Bian Elkhatib/CQ Roll Call)

The media team won the National Press Club Spelling Bee for the second year in a row when Todd Gillman of the Dallas Morning News correctly spelled “somatotype.”

The annual spelling bee pits the media against members of Congress to raise money for the National Press Club Journalism Institute.

The last member of Congress standing was Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., who lost on the word, “stela.” Overall, the media got 39 points and the politicians received 36.

[Beyer on the Words That Made His Spelling Bee Career]

To kick off the event, 2017 Scripts National Spelling Bee Champion Ananya Vinay competed in a “Champions Spell-Off” against last year’s Press Club spelling bee winner Art Swift of Gallup.

Each competitor had three minutes to spell as many words correctly as he could and Vinay, a seventh-grader from Fresno, California, amazed the crowd by not only beating Swift but spelling a number of words correctly.

Vinay then served as a judge for the competition and explained the rules before the competition started: every player gets two chances before being eliminated, and that everyone can ask questions about the word like definition, language of origin, and pronunciation.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., was the first member to almost have one strike against her when, in the second round, she thought the announcer said “correspondent” and he said “correspondence.” The theme of the second round was words featured in the musical, “Hamilton.”

[Press Victorious Over Politicians in Spelling Bee]

“Do you know how to spell fox as in Virginia Foxx? Don’t mess with our bipartisan team,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said to the judges in response to Foxx’s mixup. The judges ended up saying the congresswoman was correct. 

Other players on the members team were Reps. Don Beyer, D-Va., who won the competition in 2015, Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., and  Scott Peters, D-Calif.

Beyer said the competition was a time to put aside the recent negativity coming out of Congress.

The other members of the media team were Hadas Gold of CNN, Seung Min Kim of Politico, Vann R. Newkirk II of The Atlantic, Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post, Jonathan Salant of NJ Advance Media, along with Gillman and Swift.

To raise more money in addition to ticket sales, there was a raffle with gift card prizes and the grand prize: a Nickelback album signed by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb.

The competition was founded in 1913 but took a hiatus until 2013. Over the last four competitions (it wasn't held in 2014), the lawmakers and the media are tied with two wins each.

Correction 12:30 p.m. | An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the word Foxx struck out on and misidentified where Salant works.

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