The Scripps National Spelling Bee Announcer Is a Former Spelling Bee Champ Himself

Who is the Scripps Spelling Bee announcer? The annual spelling compeition has had this former champion serve as an announcer since 2003.

Callie (Carlos) Cadorniga - Author

Jun. 1 2023, Updated 12:14 p.m. ET

Competitors in the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee
Source: Getty Images

Every year during the week after Memorial Day, the Scripps National Spelling Bee is held. As the name suggests, the annual competition gathers young students from all over the world in order to compete in a long and intense competition where participants must continually spell lots of long and intricate words that you probably didn't know existed. The first Scripps National Spelling Bee was held back in 1925 and has been held almost every year since, save for 1944, 1945, and of course, 2020.

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In any spelling bee, however, the person who announces and pronounces each word is just as important as the competitor who must actually spell it. In any spelling competition, an announcer or pronouncer is tasked with delivering the words to the participants, and pronunciation can mean the difference between someone spelling the word right or someone spelling it incorrectly. For a spelling bee as illustrious as Scripps, who is the announcer for the nationally-recognized competition?

The Scripps National Spelling Bee
Source: Getty Images
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Who is the announcer for the Scripps National Spelling Bee?

If you've ever seen a spelling bee on television (or at least depicted on television), you've probably seen an announcer's typical process at work. Providing competitors with the words they must spell is only part of their job. A speller usually has the opportunity to ask questions about the word, such as what the word's origins are or how it is used in a sentence. The spelling bee announcer then answers those questions, leaving the speller to infer the word's spelling based on the clues.

An announcer's job is incredibly important in a spelling bee, to say nothing of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The long-running annual competition collects the best spellers in the world based on sponsored regional competitions to compete for an enormous cash prize of $50,000.

With a spelling bee as important and renowned as this, it only makes sense that the announcer has an equal reputation in the world of spelling. That's where Jacques Bailly comes in.

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Jacques Bailly
Source: Getty Images

Jacques Bailly is the chief pronouncer of the Scripps National Spelling Bee

Jacques Bailly has been the official announcer and pronouncer for Scripps since 2003.

Typically known among spellers as an official pronouncer, Jacques Bailly was first instated as the Scripps National Spelling Bee announcer back in 2003. Born in Denver, Colo. in 1966, Jacques is actually a previous champion of the Scripps competition. As an eighth grader, he won the 1980 competition with the word, "elucubrate." He would later earn his bachelor's degree from Brown University as well as a PhD from Cornell.

After reaching out to the National Spelling Bee organizers in 1990, he became an associate pronouncer for Scripps. In 2003, he replaced Alex Cameron as the chief pronouncer after his death.

Aside from his work as an announcer, he works as a full-time associate professor at the University of Vermont.

It only makes sense for a nationally-recognized speller to usher in new champions for the Scripps National Spelling Bee following his own victory.

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