NATIONAL HARBOR, MD—In a sternly worded condemnation that took the 14-year-old to task for violating the rules to obtain an unfair advantage, the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee winner Dev Shah was disqualified Friday when it was confirmed he had received in advance all 26 letters needed to spell the words. “Unfortunately, after discovering that every single letter used in the competition was leaked to the winner ahead of time, we were forced to strip this year’s winner of his title,” said Corrie Loeffler, executive director of the bee, who in private reportedly expressed concern that the cheating scandal that erupted on her watch would both undermine the integrity of the organization and destroy her career. “We take great pains to keep the letters we will use under lock and key, as it is simply not fair for a contestant to walk onto our stage already knowing that letters such as E, T, and N are likely to be used over the course of the spelling bee. Rest assured, we will be conducting a thorough investigation to determine how this elaborate fraud was perpetrated, especially now that we know Mr. Shah appears to have gone so far as to have learned a little song he used as a mnemonic device to help him remember the 26 letters.” Reached for comment, Shah told reporters he had agreed to return his $50,000 cash prize and said he wished to apologize for his behavior, which he called “probouleutic, chthonic, and completely aegragus.”
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