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Three Questions With The Bee Master: The Man Behind The Words

Jacques Bailly, the Spelling Bee's official announcer, answers questions, including why almost all bees use only English words.
Posted at 10:03 PM, Jun 01, 2022

The Scripps National Spelling has years of history behind it. While a lot has changed in the last couple of decades — with more challenging rounds and even better spellers — one thing has stayed the same since 2003. 

That would be Jacques Bailly, the Bee’s official pronouncer. He’s the guy who records word pronunciations that students use to practice, reads each word in the competition and announces the winner each year.

You might call him The Bee Master.

As an eighth grader, Bailly won the Spelling Bee himself after the runner-up misspelled "glitch."

Bailly is also a classics associate professor and director of graduate studies at the University of Vermont, where he studies "philology," or the meanings of words and how they've evolved.

Newsy met with the Bee Master on campus to ask him a few questions, including what the best way to prepare is, why almost all spelling bees use English words only and why he's devoted so much of his life to words.

Watch the Scripps National Spelling Bee Finals live on ION June 2 at 8/7c. Go to SpellingBee.com to find ION.