The Washington Post

Bee phenom: Young speller takes final bow

There are some things one does in and around Washington.

Take a stroll on the Mall, hit the Smithsonian, gawk at motorcades.

And if you’re somebody, you hold a press conference. For now, Lori Anne Madison is a somebody.

The 6-year-old spelling phenom stole the show Wednesday at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. She’s bubbly, adorable, authentic. Lori Anne bowed out of the competition, tripped up on “ingluvies.” She said she knew the word but got nervous.

She was still stealing the show Thursday morning.

At the Gaylord convention center in Prince George’s County, the bee venue, the girl from Woodbridge made an appearance before a roomful of journalists. They complained about the microphone’s shadow and a bee hat blocking the view.

No matter. Lori Anne giggled amidst 10 cameras and a conference call of foreign journalists who had phoned in to hear from her.

Is she a superstar?

“Yes,” she said, giggling.

Are words harder now than in the past?

“I could have won in those times double time,” she said. “Now, they’ve made them much harder. Some [bees] were won on ‘therapy.’ I mean c’mon!” (In fact, that was the winning word in the 1940 bee.)

Among 278 spellers, Lori Anne was number 269. They went in order.

“I wasn’t paying attention to that word, and I was tired from the wait,” she said of her miss Wednesday afternoon. “Boring. Really boring. Really, really boring.”

Lori Anne is going home to “flop in bed” and probably play some Angry Birds.

Will she be back next year? Yep.

“I’m really excited . . . if I go. Which is probably going to be a yes.”

Thursday’s semifinals coverage has begun on ESPN2. The finals start at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

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