Kevin Negandhi to Return as Host of 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee
In 2019, a record night at the 92nd Scripps National Spelling Bee was marked by eight co-champions being declared May 30, seven of whom were Indian Americans. The eight winners included Rishik Gandhasri of San Jose, California; Saketh Sundar of Clarksville, Maryland; Shruthika Padhy of Cherry Hill, New Jersey; Sohum Sukhatankar of Dallas, Texas; Abhijay Kodali of Flower Mound, Texas; Rohan Raja of Irving, Texas; Christopher Serrao of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey; and Erin Howard of Huntsville, Alabama. (Mark Bowen/Scripps National Spelling Bee photo)
India-West Staff Reporter
ESPN May 20 announced that Indian American broadcaster Kevin Negandhi will return to host the semifinal and final rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Negandhi, a co-anchor on the 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter, previously hosted the event in 2016 and 2017.
“I’m thrilled to be returning as host of the Scripps National Spelling Bee,” Negandhi said in a statement. “Due to my schedule in 2018 and 2019, I missed out on the fun, but it’s great to be back to share the stories about the competitors and what drives them at a young age to be the best in the world.”
Paul Loeffler, a finalist in 1990 and the voice of Fresno State athletics, will return as an expert analyst for a 15th year, the sports network added in its news release.
Jen Lada, a reporter and host on a variety of ESPN programs, will serve as an interviewer and reporter.
“I’m looking forward to teaming up again with the best in the business in Paul Loeffler, Jen Lada, and producers Bryan Jaroch and Steve Ackels and the rest of our dedicated crew who love the Bee and what it stands for,” Negandhi added.
This is the 27th consecutive Scripps National Spelling Bee ESPN has televised. There was no Spelling Bee in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2019, an unprecedented eight spellers, seven of whom were Indian Americans, were declared co-champions as the words thrown at the competitors proved no match. (See India-West article here: https://bit.ly/2QPMi7t)
The early rounds this year will be held virtually while the finals will be held July 8 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.
The 93rd Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee will feature spellers ranging in age from 9 to 15.
The 10 to 12 finalists who will travel to Orlando for the finals will be determined by a series of virtual spelling rounds that will be held in the lead-up to the July 8 finals, the release notes.
Those early rounds include preliminaries and quarterfinals on ESPN3 on June 12 and 15, followed by the semifinals on ESPN2 on June 27.
ESPN’s coverage will span more than 20 hours.
The multiple choice Play Along channel returns on ESPNU for its seventh year for the semifinals and finals, offering fans a one-in-four chance to pick the correct spelling of the given word, allowing fans to compete along with the spellers.
The Play Along version also features informational boxes highlighting the word’s etymology, definition, clear pronunciation and part of speech, as well as live tweets, the speller’s bio and more, the release said.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee is the nation’s largest and longest-running educational program, having launched in 1925. The purpose of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.