76th Scripps National Spelling Bee

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76th Scripps National Spelling Bee
DateMay 28–29, 2003
LocationGrand Hyatt Washington, Washington D.C.
WinnerSai R. Gunturi
ResidenceDallas, Texas
SponsorThe Topeka Daily Capital
Sponsor locationDallas, Texas
Winning wordpococurante
No. of contestants251
PronouncerJacques Bailly (first year as chief pronouncer)
Preceded by75th Scripps National Spelling Bee
Followed by77th Scripps National Spelling Bee

The 76th Scripps National Spelling Bee was held on May 28–29, 2003, in Washington D.C..


The competition was won by 13-year-old eighth grader Sai R. Gunturi of Dallas, sponsored by the Dallas Morning News, who correctly spelled rhathymia followed by pococurante for the win. He had happened to have studied the final word previously, so knew he was going to win. He won $12,000 as well as additional prizes. It was Gunturi's fourth trip to the bee, improving his performance every year. He was tied for 32nd in 2000, and placed 16th in 2001 and 7th in 2002; his sister Nivedita tied for 8th place in 1997.

Second place went to 14-year-old homeschooled student Evelyn Blacklock of Tuxedo Park, New York, who misspelled gnathonic. She had also competed in the prior year, finishing 59th.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

Third place was a three-way tie among three contestants who fell in round 11. JJ Goldstein, age 13 of Great Neck, New York, fell when misspelling betony. Samir Patel, age 9, of Colleyville, Texas, misspelled boudin. Patel tied for second-place two years later in the 2005 bee. And Trudy McLeary, age 14 of Kingston, Jamaica fell on aplustre. This was the best performance by an entrant from Jamaica since winning the 1998 bee.[8][9][10]


251 contestants participated between the ages of 9 and 15, with most being age 13 and in eighth grade. The field included 167 which attended public schools, and 19 with a sibling with prior bee experience. The competition lasted 15 rounds, and started on May 28, 2003 with an oral round that excluded 76 contestants, followed by a 25 word written test which eliminated 91 more spellers who made errors on more than 10 words. The next year the written test, first introduced the prior year, was given before the oral round because spellers had reported being too anxious to do a written test after the opening oral round. Eighty-four contestants returned for the final competition at 8 a.m. of the next day. The competition by 2:15 p.m. was reduced to 30. The final rounds were aired on ESPN and ESPN2.

This was the first year in which Jacques Bailly became chief pronouncer, replacing the recently deceased Alex Cameron who had served in that role for over 20 years.[11]


  1. ^ (30 May 2003). At U.S. Spelling Bee, a Prize for 'Pococurante', The New York Times
  2. ^ (30 May 2003). American Morning - Interview With Spelling Bee Champ Sai Gunturi, CNN
  3. ^ Wehrman, Jessica (30 May 2003). Sai Gunturi crowned 76th spelling bee champ, Casper Star-Tribune (Scripps Howard News Service)
  4. ^ (30 May 2003). Dallas student wins national spelling bee, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  5. ^ Geraghty, Jim (30 May 2003). 'Tessitura' spells end for Each Machias girl in 4th round of bee, Bangor Daily News (States News Service)
  6. ^ Feller, Ben (29 May 2003). Top spellers test their mettle at national bee, Victoria Advocate (Associated Press)
  7. ^ (28 May 2003). 175 advance to second round of spelling bee, nwitimes.com (Associated Press) (including full list of contestants eliminated in the first round)
  8. ^ (30 May 2003). Scripps Howard spelldown - Gutsy Trudy makes it to third place Archived 2014-07-14 at the Wayback Machine, Jamaica Gleaner
  9. ^ (3 June 2005). 13-year old from California is new king bee, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  10. ^ (30 May 2003). How they fell, Lawrence Journal-World
  11. ^ (25 May 2003). Spelling bee pronouncer gets 1st word, The Columbian