OKTC Guide to the Scripps National Spelling Bee Favorites

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There are only three things on television that I clear my schedule for every year: Miss America, Miss USA, and the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Seriously. The spelling bee is tonight, live, on ESPN. Apparently, spelling is now a sport but cheerleading isn’t? I get it, the kids are sweating, they look like they are about to puke or pass out, it’s strenuous labor trying to use your finger to draw out the word on your name card. It’s so much of a sport that Vegas has odds on it. And in typical Vegas fashion, there are odds on everything.

My personal favorite is if the winner is home schooled. Those home-school kids are the equivalent of steroid users in baseball. The state isn’t mandating how much time a day they can spend on spelling. Hell, for all we know they could ONLY be “taking” spelling and their mothers are padding the books.

Will Winner Be Homeschooled?

Yes: 10/1

No: 1/25

Will Winner Wear Glasses?

Yes: 2/5

No: 15/8

Age of Winner?

Over 13: 8/11

Under 12: 11/10

Here are a couple of things I don’t understand about the Spelling Bee. I went on the Scripps website and read the rule book. I know aren’t you jealous of my life? The things I do for you people. The obvious things the athlete is allowed to ask for are pronunciation, definition, alternate pronunciations. Here are the ones I don’t get:

  1. The origin: I’m sorry, the what? Why? Why do you need to know if the Quakers were using this word?

  2. Language of origin: Here’s a basic example, but what if you had to spell the word “yes?” It’s the same in a few languages, so then you would just be SOL. This does nothing for me.

  3. Sentence: This one can go both ways, but seeing as the announcer has the world’s most monotone voice, I’m going to go out on a limb and say their sentence creativity isn’t going to help you bring home the bee’s honey jar, kid.

Let’s look at the three favorites and then my choice from “in the field.” I was planning on only highlighting spellers from SEC states with odds on them, but shocking, there are none. Don’t tell me I’m a terrible person for hating on these baby nerds. You’re right moms, I’m very jealous of your overachieving kids. Very. I can’t tell you how many times a day I use Google as a spell check tool. It’s pathetic and a number I will keep to myself forever.

Like I said, I’m not hating on these kids. What they’ve accomplished is truly impressive and something this University of Alabama graduate will never come close to. Although, I still think I could’ve made a run for it back in 4th grade if my word wasn’t “definitely.” That has to be one of the most commonly misspelled words by adults. Moving on…..

Lucas Urbanski: 5/1

First of all, on the website he included his middle name. Red flag! This kid is rocking an impressive comb over at the age of 14. Lucas is very proud of his yo-yo tricks and would be happy to show them to you.  He’s in 8th grade, so I like his odds of taking his flowing mane to high school next year. He’s from Illinois, so he’s survived some rough winters, which gives him an advantage. This is homeboy’s THIRD appearance. He would like to meet J.K. Rowling, so he gets bonus points for realizing what a masterpiece Harry Potter & the Gang are. I like this kid. He gets my vote out of the Vegas favorites.

Vanya Shivashankar: 3/1

First of all she’s already at an advantage having to spell her own last name. She’s from Kansas City, but the non-SEC side. She’s 12 and in the seventh grade, so I’m sure she’s rocking a super sassy attitude and knows everything. She’s been to seven countries so that qualifies her as “worldly” in Andi the Bachelorette’s book. This girl’s secret weapon? Her sister won the Spelling Bee in 2009, so championship pedigree and an in house legacy! Unreal.

Jae Canetti: 6/1

It’s obvious that this 12 year old from Virginia gets his love of spelling from his parents given the unique spelling of his name. He is obsessed with baseball and traveling with his father to all the minor league baseball team’s stadiums. He appreciates the little guys, respect it. He’s already been honored by Johns Hopkins, so he sets the bar high. (For the 85%, Johns Hopkins is a world renowned university.)

Hannah Citsay: 7/1

This chick uses her middle name on her Scripps bio page, so she’s got “that girl” written all over her come the teenage years. She gets sympathy points from me for being from Pennsylvania, because that must suck. She has a passion for fitness so she’s going to be the girl in your sorority house always making you feel guilty for indulging in Fried Fridays. Whatever, fries are a vegetable. She was in the Spelling Bee last year and got 12th place so she’s got a target on her back and is ready to make some moves. Watch out.

Jonathan Buckley: Because Cippy Says

My main man Johnny B. This future ladies’ man enjoys swimming and rowing on his crew team, as well as golf and skiing. He was given the “Trippy” award at summer camp. Yes, he goes to private school and will be one of those guys. He also LOVES satire and can be found watching the Colbert Report. This sweet boy says his inspiration is his mother, so he’s got heart. Buckley is 14 and will be taking his talents to high school next year.

There’s your guide to the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee. It airs live tonight at 8/7c on ESPN. Because I’m such a nice person, I’ll live tweet it for you @cippywallace. Yes, I’m secretly hoping one of them pukes on stage.  


Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.