Andrew Brown could have used a lifeline from the audience Saturday. But the 13-year-old wasn't on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. He was a finalist in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee regional qualifying competition, and he was having trouble choosing between "i" and "e."
So he relied on his knowledge -- and guesswork.
"I guessed on a couple of them," said the Lincoln County eighth-grader. "I guessed the letter was `i' in `decisive' instead of `e'."
Andrew competed against 16 elementary and middle school finalists from area school districts for a trip to compete in the national spelling bee in Washington.
All contestants in Saturday's competition had won spelling bees at their schools and districts before coming to the local qualifying bee, held at The Augusta Chronicle.
Kristin Rouse of John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School had to compete against four finalists in the Richmond County spelling bee for her chance in Saturday's event.
Although Kristen did not win Saturday (she competed up to round six) she, like all participants, received a certificate and a T-shirt.
Andrew and runner-up Shannon Swint from Washington County got to round 10 before facing off for the title.
Shannon misspelled "sorcerer," which Andrew got right. After that, Andrew was required to spell another word to win the competition. His final word was "accumulate," which he spelled correctly.
Andrew won several prizes, including a $500 U.S. Savings Bond from The Chronicle, which sponsored the event.
He also won a gift certificate for merchandise from Scripps Howard, a dictionary, software and other prizes. In addition, he won an all-expenses-paid trip for him and a parent to the national finals.
The 2000 Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee has involved more than 9 million pupils at the local level and more than 240 finalists. The first national spelling bee was held in 1925, and Scripps Howard gained the rights in 1941.
Saturday's other contestants were Joe Fierstos, Columbia County; Blake Herring, Burke County; Lauren Tumminello, McDuffie County; Amanda Leigh Ham, McCormick County, S.C.; Owen Long of Westminster Schools in the private school category; Deborah Turner, Wilkes County; Jennifer Rose Flowers, Jefferson County; Rachel Brady of Burke County in the home school category; Willie Seals, Taliaferro County; Melissa Shelton, Glascock County; Racquel Andrews, Warren County; Kendra Fryson, Jenkins County; and Janee Carlyle, Emanuel County.
Reach Barnini Chakraborty at (706) 823-3332.