The model minority stereotype of Asian Americans, especially South Asian Americans, is central to society’s characterization of them as precocial spellers. The Scripps National Spelling Bee is a prestigious event where the best spellers from across the United States face off in a high-stakes and highly-televised spelling competition. In this article, the researchers analyze the demographic and geographic characteristics of the winners of this competition. Included in the analyses are responses to questions such as: Are Scripps National Spelling Bee winners more likely to be males or females? Asians or non-Asians? And, what is the average age of winners? Results show that the demographic backgrounds of Scripps National Spelling Bee winners have changed over time, most acutely during the 1980s. Although Asian Americans have been winning the Scripps National Spelling Bee in record numbers in recent years, we problematize both the characterization that they are overrepresented as winners, and the characterization that they are “model minorities.”

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