A record eight children have won the US National Spelling Bee after organisers ran out of difficult words to separate them.
The finalists, who are aged between 12 and 14 years old, all successfully navigated 20 rounds of increasingly obscure words to be crowned co-champions in one of America's oldest competitions.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee has seen an increasingly competitive field in its 94-year history but organisers were stunned when several hours of spelling tests were unable to break the final eight competitors.
As the hours ran on, Jacques Bailly, the competition's pronouncer, told the finalists: "We're throwing the dictionary at you, and, so far, you are showing the dictionary who's boss".
Rishik Gandharsi, 13; Erin Howard, 14; Saketh Sundar, 13; Shruthika Padhy, 13; Sohum Sukhantankar, 13; Abhijay Kodali, 12; Christopher Serrao, 13 and Rohan Raja, 13, were eventually crowned co-champions after spelling 47 consecutive words correctly.
Among the words that earned spellers a share of the title were "auslaut", "palama," "cernuous" and "odylic."
"I'm very glad they stopped where they did," said Shruthika, from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Saketh, from Clarksville, Maryland, agreed: "I feel like there was no better way to do it. I don't know if I would've won if they kept going. I was super tired because it was like 12am, and I was exhausted."
All eight children will each receive the competition's $50,000 (£39,700) cash prize and a new, custom-designed trophy, because officials simply could not come up with words difficult enough to challenge them.
The Bee began at a conference centre in National Harbor, Maryland on Tuesday with 565 contestants, the largest ever field, eventually whittled down to Thursday's prime-time finals.
“I study like 4-5 hours on weekdays, but when the competition became near, I ramped it up and I studied as much as I could … 10 hours on the weekends,” says Abhijay Kodali, one of the 8 champions of the Scripps National Spelling Bee https://t.co/80K64amOnvpic.twitter.com/AVD56HJA37
— CNN (@CNN) May 31, 2019
There have been co-champions in previous year and the rules going into this year's competition called for a maximum of three co-champions.
A contingency plan for even more winners was developed on Thursday afternoon, after officials evaluated spellers' performance in the early final rounds. It took five and a half hours to narrow the field from 50 kids to 16.
Mr Bailly said the competition had entered "uncharted territory" as he announced the rule change. "We do have plenty of words remaining on our list. But we will soon run out of words that will possibly challenge you, the most phenomenal collection of super spellers in the history of this competition."
The competition has changed a great deal since Mr Bailly himself won the Bee in 1980, when the winning word was elucubrate. Other winning words from that era included croissant in 1970, vouchsafe in 1973 and kamikaze in 1993.
Today's spellers typically have personal coaches and spend hours each day studying for the competition.