National Press Club

"Somatotype" makes Gillman NPC Spelling Bee Champ

September 26, 2017 | By Emily Wilkins | emrwilkins@gmail.com

Dallas Morning News Bureau Chief Todd Gillman holds the championship belt after winning the 2017 National Press Club "Press vs. Politicians" Spelling Bee.

Dallas Morning News Bureau Chief Todd Gillman holds the championship belt after winning the 2017 National Press Club "Press vs. Politicians" Spelling Bee.

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

Dallas Morning News Bureau Chief Todd Gillman is the champion of the 2017 National Press Club Spelling Bee beating out Florida Democrat Rep. Ted Deutch with the word “somatotype.”

Somatotype is defined as a term for a body type.

The competition, which was moderated by Dr. Jacques Bailly from the Scripps National Spelling Bee, featured a team of reporters facing off against a bipartisan group of lawmakers. The press team won with a final score of 39-36 after 12 rounds.

Rather than a trophy, Gillman received a championship wrestling belt.

The bee kicked off with 2016’s spelling bee champion, Art Swift of Gallup, facing off against Ananya Vinay, champion of the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee. The duo battled in a speed round where both contestants had to spell as many words as they could in three minutes. Swift came in at 14 words. Vinay, without missing a single one, landed 24 words in the same period of time -– and took home a commemorative mug.

The evening was filled with laughs due, in part to, MCs Clinton Yates of ESPN and Kelsey Snell of The Washington Post keeping the jokes coming. In the first round, contestants were told their words via jokes –-

“What did the buffalo say when his son went to college?”

“Bison”

The second round was words used in "Hamilton," the Broadway musical, leading a number of contestants to ask for the Scripps judges to rap parts of the musical rather than providing a definition. Tweets from the round caught the attention of Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who asked on Twitter for someone to DVR the competition.

Words throughout the night included “vermilion,” to “Hippogriff” to “anaconda.” Even if the spelling was off, the humor was often on point. After being told he got his second word incorrect and was disqualified, Rep. Jamie Raskin, (D-Md.), had a request: “I’d like to appeal the ruling of the chair.”

The bee was the club’s fifth, with the first one held in 1913 and the competition revived a century later in 2013. This is the second time a contestant from the press team has won, the first time being in 2016.

The bee also included a raffle, with the grand prize of a Nickelback album signed by Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, who was pranked when someone signed him up to receive Nickelback newsletters.

The team of lawmakers included Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Raskin, Deutch, Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.).

Representing members of the media were Swift of Gallup, Alexandra Petri of The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim of Politico, Hadas Gold of CNN, Gillman of The Dallas Morning News, Vann R. Newkirk II of The Atlantic, and Jonathan Salant of NJ Advance Media.