ESPN To Provide Early-Round Coverage Of National Spelling Bee

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ESPN will broadcast the preliminary championship rounds of the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee this week in Washington, D.C., chronicling the highs and lows experienced by kids competing in the pressure-packed spelling competition, the network announced Tuesday.

This year’s contest features 288 spellers ranging from 8 to 15 years of age. The spellers, who come from the U.S., Europe, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea and other international locales, qualified for the national competition by winning locally sponsored spelling bees in their home communities.

The ABC Television Network will provide live coverage of the championship rounds from 8 to 10 p.m. ET on Friday, May 30. Emmy Award-winning television personality Tom Bergeron will host the ABC broadcast.

Preliminary championship rounds of the bee will be simulcast live earlier in the day on ESPN and ESPN360.com from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET. SportsCenter anchor Chris McKendry will host the ESPN broadcast. ESPN360.com will provide coverage of the quarterfinal rounds from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 29.

The National Spelling Bee word panel has compiled a list consisting of more than 1,000 words that will be used in the national competition.

Cash prizes for competitors range from $50 to $30,000 for the national champion. All spellers receive a commemorative watch; the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, which consists of a $100 EE U.S. Savings bond; and Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, on CD-ROM from Merriam-Webster.

The national champion also receives an engraved loving cup; from Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation, a $5,000 scholarship; from Merriam-Webster, a $2,500 U.S. Savings Bond and a reference library; and from Encyclopedia Britannica, reference materials valued at more than $3,800.

More information about the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee can be found online at the contest’s official Web site.

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