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First-Ever Spelling Bee Winner Dies

By Madeline Holler |

scripps national spelling bee, spelling bee

Waiting to spell at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The first-ever winner of the U.S. national spelling bee has died. Frank Neuhauser beat his competitors by spelling “gladiolus,” in what his now known as the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

His prize? $500 … in gold! And a trip to the White House to visit the president — President Calvin Coolidge.

Neuhauser won the contest when he was 11 way back in 1925. He was 97 when he died and a lifelong supporter of spelling bees, even appearing in the fabulous documentary “Spellbound.”

Neuhauser attended spelling bees over the years. He said he’d never win a national one, spellers have simply gotten so good. Considering he won with “gladiolus” and last year’s winner won with “stromuhr” — he’s probably right.

Just what does winning a spelling bee set one up for in life? Neuhauser, for one, went on to a career as a patent attorney in the Washington, D.C. area.

Photo: Amy Yasuda via flickr

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About Madeline Holler


Madeline Holler

Madeline Holler is a writer, journalist, and blogger. She has written for Babble since the site launched in 2006. Her writing has appeared in various other publications both online and in print, including Salon and True/Slant (now Forbes). A native of the Midwest, Madeline lives, writes, and parents in Southern California, where she's raising two daughters and a son. Read bio and latest posts → Read Madeline's latest posts →

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One thought on “First-Ever Spelling Bee Winner Dies

  1. Kellyk says:

    They way the title reads I though maybe he got a prize for dying! ;)

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