Press wins spelling bee after politician misses ‘whangdoodle’

It was Wang’s first mistake, and the bee gave each contestant two — or four in the case of Illinois Republican Rep. Rodney Davis, because Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Madeleine Dean didn’t. could not make its scheduled appearance. With teams unbalanced, organizers decided that the first politician eliminated would get some sort of reincarnation — Davis called it a recount — to keep the teams tied.

Pappas entered the NSFSB round with a strike already, having added an “a” before the final “e” in “anemone”. Then, after Wang landed his first hit, Pappas was knocked out on “whangdoodle”, omitting the “h” in the word which means either poppycock or “an imaginary creature of indefinite character”, according to Merriam-Webster, the bee- dictionary approved.

Pappas is unleashing a storm on Wednesday night, alongside members of the press and fellow lawmakers. (Courtesy of the National Press Club)

Pappas took it well, perhaps because the night before the embattled Democrat learned his opponent in November won’t be the one the GOP super PACs spent millions to help in the New Hampshire primary. He certainly wasn’t calling the competition rigged, even though there had been two rounds of spelling dog names and Wang’s past assignments included covering the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.

Other lawmakers in the contest were Democratic Representatives Don Beyer of Virginia, Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon and Jared Huffman of California. The press team also included Farnoush Amiri of The Associated Press, Ramtin Arablouei of NPR, John M. Donnelly of CQ Roll Call, Eric Geller of Politico and Martine Powers of The Washington Post.

Ahead of Wednesday’s competition, the press and politician teams had been split, 3-3, since 2013 when the spelling bee was revived. It was first held at the club when Woodrow Wilson was chairman.

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