EDUCATION

National Spelling Bee ends in its unlikeliest tie to date

  • Nihar Saireddy Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas, is lifted up as he celebrates being named the co-champion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, May 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

    Nihar Saireddy Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas, is lifted up as he celebrates being named the co-champion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, May 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)  (The Associated Press)

  • Jairam Jagadeesh Hathwar, 13, of Painted Post, N.Y., runs to high-five Nihar Saireddy Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas, foreground, after they were named the co-champions of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, May 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

    Jairam Jagadeesh Hathwar, 13, of Painted Post, N.Y., runs to high-five Nihar Saireddy Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas, foreground, after they were named the co-champions of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, May 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)  (The Associated Press)

Nihar Janga looked like the strongest speller at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and perhaps the best ever. And he's only 11 years old.

But he stumbled twice, at just the wrong time — or maybe the right time. He still ended up winning, but sharing the title with 13-year-old Jariam Hathwar.

Twice, Jairam missed a word, giving Nihar a chance to seal the title. Both times, Nihar followed up with his own flub. After each nailed his final two words, they were declared co-champions. It was the third year in a row that the bee ended in a tie.

Nihar is the youngest champion on record. Jairam is the younger brother of the 2014 co-champion.

The tie was unexpected after bee officials changed the rules to make it harder.