2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee Betting Odds, Props and Preview

by Rick Rockwell
on May 27, 2018
12

Minute Read

Beginning on May 29th, the 91st edition of the Scripps National Spelling Bee will be live from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. This exciting event spans across three days as 519 participants battle it out on a national stage to win the prestigious “intellectual” trophy and $40,000 in cash. The Finals will take place on May 31st, at 8:30 P.M. ET and will be live on ESPN. The global sports network will also cover the entire contest on its secondary stations.

Who would’ve thought back in 1925 that a small spelling bee contest would grow to into a national contest with global exposure?  And, that’s exactly what this contest has become – a worldwide phenomenon. We’ve all entered or were forced to participate in a spelling bee at some point in our youth. But, this contest’s level of words and intensity are off the charts. Even more impressive is how some of these kids seem like extra-terrestrial lifeforms with their mind-blowing intelligence. And, that’s why betting sites have taken a liking to the National Spelling Bee.

Whether you are a genuine fan of this event, or just want to add a little excitement to “Bee Week” by placing a few bets on it, check out the following National Spelling Bee betting props provided by BetOnline:

Will the Winner be Male or Female?

The Odds: Male (-130) and Female (-110)

Typically, if the pool of participants were split evenly down the middle between boys and girls then these odds would be closer to Even. However, that’s not the case in 2018. With the largest number of spellers to ever participate in one contest (519), the breakdown of boys to girls is roughly 55% to 45%.

From 1997 to 2017, there have been 14 boys who have won and 10 girls who have won with last year’s winner being a girl. Overall, there have been 48 girl winners and 46 boy winners. These numbers include the years that the contest had co-champs.

With more boys in this year’s contest, and the male spellers having won more in the last two decades, I’m going to lean toward the males winning this year.

Bet: Male (-130)

Will There be Co-Champions?

The Odds: Yes (+150) and No (-200)

In the 90 previous contests, there have been co-champions only 6 times: 1950, 1957, 1962, 2014, 2015, and 2016. As you can see, co-champs have occurred 3 out of the last 4 years. Despite this recent frequency, and only occurring roughly 6% of the time overall, it doesn’t seem likely that there will be co-champions this year. With that said, bet on No at -200 odds.

Bet: No (-200)

Will the Winner Have Braces?

The Odds: Yes (+150) and No (-200)

As someone who has had braces in his younger days, I’m rooting for any of the kids who are wearing braces. Unfortunately, the number is small. In the last two decades, roughly 20% of the winners had braces. If you browse through the field of participants for this year’s contest, and only counting the pics where kids are smiling, roughly 10% to 12% of the kids have braces. So, the numbers are heavily in favor of the winner not having braces on.

Bet: No (-200)

Will the Winner Wear Glasses?

The Odds: Yes (-130) and No (-110)

Since 1997, 11 of the previous winners have worn glasses. After browsing through the profiles of this year’s participants, roughly 21% to 22% of them wear glasses. So, I’m actually surprised by how low the odds are for No. At -110, that seems like a great bet considering the large number of participants that aren’t wearing glasses.

Bet: No (-110)

Number of Letters in the Winning Word

The Odds: Over 9.5 letters (+100) and Under 9.5 letters (-140)

Since 1997, including co-winners, the competition ending words finished Over 9.5 letters on 12 occasions. During that span, the competition ending words also finished Under 9.5 letters on 12 occasions. So, that means over the last two decades, the Over/Under of 9.5 letters has occurred the same amount of times.

In the last 10 contests, the Under has hit 8 times and the Over has hit 6 times. More recently, the Over is 5-2 in the last 4 contests. These numbers include the three years that had co-winners.

According to ESPN, the following is a breakdown of the most difficult words by number of letters:

  • 12 letters – 5.4%
  • 10 letters – 4.5%
  • 6 letters – 4.1%
  • 5 letters – 4.1%
  • 14 letters – 4.0%

I like the value that the Over has in this prop bet and I think it’s the one to take.

Bet: Over 9.5 letters (+100)

National Spelling Bee Fun Facts

The following is a list of some of the more interesting and entertaining facts about this contest:

  • ESPN has been broadcasting the spelling bee since 1994
  • 18 of the last 22 winners have been Indian American
  • The youngest champion is Nihar Janga who was 11 years old at the time
  • Only two kids outside of the 50 States have won this contest: Jamaica and Puerto Rico
  • The contest was canceled from 1943 to 1945 due to World War II
  • From 1925 to 1957, the contest took place in one day
  • The first contest (1925) only had 9 participants
  • In 1978, the contest broke 100 participants for the first time
  • In 1925, the first contest’s grand prize was $500 in gold pieces
  • In 1993, the grand prize went up to $5,000

91st Scripps National Spelling Bee Betting Summary

If you like spelling bees, or enjoy testing your spelling skills against kids more than half your age, then make sure to tune in to ESPN’s coverage of the 91st Scripps National Spelling Bee contest. I’m definitely going to check out the action and enjoy being made to look silly by prepubescent intellects.

Here’s a recap of my bets:

  • Winner: Male (-130)
  • Co-Champs: No (-200)
  • Wear Braces: No (-200)
  • Wear Glasses: Bet: No (-110)
  • Final Word Over/Under 9.5 letters: Over 9.5 letters (+100)

In closing, I would like to leave you with a few of the competition-ending words from the last 90 years:

  • 1925 – gladiolus
  • 1928 – knack
  • 1934 – brethren
  • 1937 – promiscuous
  • 1952 – vignette
  • 1965 – eczema
  • 1970 – croissant
  • 1976 – narcolepsy
  • 1984 – luge
  • 1996 – vivisepulture
  • 2005 – appoggiatura
  • 2015 – scherenschnittea
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