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The official Vox Spelling Bee Drinking Game

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Later tonight, 10 children from districts all across this country will compete in the cruel and unfair carnage known as 88th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee. The competition began with 285 tributes sequestered in a Maryland hotel. Over the last several hours, the tributes have been reciting sequences of letters from memory, hoping to survive and advance.

This godless sport is all done, of course, to please the Capitol and the television audiences at home. While the rules of the Bee are simple, the rules of watching the Bee at home are more undefined. With that in mind, we've provided you a brief and enjoyable drinking game to take the bitter edge off this cruel tradition.

A thing to keep in mind: this game is designed to gradually ease the edge. If the carnage is too much for you to take, we suggest drinking every single time a tribute gets a word right. Conversely, you can also play this game with soda or juice (from a box), but this won't take the sharp edge off of the Bee as much wine, beer, or whiskey would.

Choose your tribute

In order to fully appreciate this game, you need to select a speller to root for. These are your ten options, ranked from best to worst score in preliminary rounds:

Two favorites to win this year are Gokul Venkatachalam,, who placed third in 2013, and Vanya Shivashanker, whose sister won the Bee in 2009. Also, don't count out Cole Shafer-Ray, who participated in the Bee in 2013 and 2014, and did particularly well on the written parts of the preliminary rounds.


  • ... if you know the word, and are able to spell it, then you can assign a drink to someone else.
  • ... if your speller spells a word correctly.

take a drink

  • if the language of origin is Oscan.
  • if the language of origin is unknown.
  • once for each alternate pronunciation.
  • if an entire round goes by and no one is eliminated
  • ... if a speller gets a word with more than 10 letters right.

two drinks

  • if a tribute knows a root word and still misspells the word.
  • … if Siyona spells a word right. Yes, any word. She's the youngest. It's only fair.
  • ... if Cole gets eliminated. He is clearly too cool for spelling bees.



  • if a speller faints, and do not stop chugging until the speller gets up.


Ashkay Buddiga fainted during the 2004 Bee. Courtesy: ESPN

  • ... if someone cries, and do not stop chugging until they stop crying. Tears of joy or sadness do not matter.


  • when a winner is crowned.
  • ... when your tribute is eliminated.

The Spelling Bee will be on ESPN at 8 p.m. EDT.

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