Washington How fast can fortunes change at the spelling bee? Shazam.
When Brady Yoon got that word in the third round, he gave the judges a stunned look -- and an incorrect spelling.
So with the dreaded ding of the bell, the 14-year old from Anaheim, Calif., was escorted off stage, done in by a word meaning instantaneous transformation.
Plenty of others avoided having to leave so hastily, including fellow 14-year-old Aaron Ho of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who nailed "skedaddle."
The oral competition of the 77th Scripps National Spelling Bee got off to a fast start Wednesday as 191 of the 265 spellers got their first word right. None of the children was eliminated right away. Instead, their results were combined with their scores from a 25-word written test Tuesday, which together cut the field to 94.
And then came the familiar spelling bee format: one mistake and that's it.
By day's end, 46 spellers remained for today's championship, which is expected to reach a live TV audience of hundreds of thousands of homes.
All the participants were in competition for a top package of $17,000 in cash and other prizes, including $12,000 and an engraved cup from the bee itself.
At least 9 million children participated in local spelling bees that led to the national finals.
The point of the bee is to help children improve their vocabularies, learn spelling concepts and develop correct English usage. But for these kids and their parents, there are other factors at play -- soaking in the Washington scene, taking pride in making it to the finals, enduring the tense contest.
One boy even practiced words aloud on his escalator ride to the ballroom.
Some of the stumpers Wednesday were "phyllotaxy," "triboluminescence," "ziphioid," "dacquoise" and "tachytely."