Can you spell

Rebecca Sealfon, Speller No. 140
Photo by National Spelling Bee

Not many people would say their favorite spectator sport is a spelling bee, but then again, not very many people have seen Rebecca Sealfon spell. Out of 245 young contestants and seven hours later, Rebecca spelled euonym correctly and became the National Spelling Bee Champion. She won $5,000, a laptop computer, an encyclopedia set and a $1,000 savings bond.

So what's the big deal anyway? Well, let me put it this way: if Rebecca can capture the attention of my entire office by the unique way in which she spells, then something isn't quite normal. Similar to the scary Catholic school girl (Mary Katherine Gallagher) Molly Shannon plays on Saturday Night Live. You know...the one who smells her hands all the time and crashes into things.

Rebecca is fun to watch as she sounds out words in her hands, or says "yes" everytime she gets a word right. She's the only contestant that told the judges they picked idiotic words and she also has some of the best facial expressions.

Unlike a few of the other contestants who had trouble coping with the stress of the competition, the teen from Brooklyn held on strong, almost mocking the others by asking questions about the word origins in a way that some might sense she knew the spelling all along. She would then spell each letter slowly, reaching an edge-of-your-seat control on the audience.

Since her win in 1997, Rebecca inspired a South Park cartoon about spelling bee homeschool kids. Her character Rebecca Cutswald steals Kyle's little heart. Her mug has even become Obey Giant sticker.

I'm not sure what Rebecca's been up to lately, but I'm sure it's interesting. (Actually, I did hear that she's attending Princeton.) She is indeed my hero.

(graphic made by Aaron Muszalski)

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