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Tennessee Man Wins 15th Annual AARP National Spelling Bee for ‘Word Nerds’ Age 50+


Most Competitive Bee in Its 15 Year History

Cheyenne, WY — After more than 9 and a half hours of spelling today (Saturday), Scott Firebaugh, age 56, of Knoxville, TN, correctly spelled “keratomileusis” to win the 15th Annual AARP National Spelling Bee for spellers age 50+. The runner-up, Robert Moy, age 53, from New York, NY, missed “myoinositol” after 68 difficult rounds of spelling. Third place went to the 2005 AARP National Spelling Bee champion, David Riddle, 57, of Pacific Grove, CA.

The AARP National Spelling Bee began with a 100-word written spelling test which narrowed the field of 48 competitors from all over the country down to the top 16. These finalists advanced to the oral spelling finals where spellers were allowed to miss three words before being knocked out of the contest.

“The competition was tough,” said AARP Wyoming Director Tim Summers. “This was the first year that previous winners could compete again, and it really brought out the best in everyone.”

The AARP National Spelling Bee was created in 1996 by a group of AARP members who wanted to challenge their peers to keep their minds sharp. It is open to anyone age 50 or older, and is supported by Merriam-Webster Inc., University of Wyoming, Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Visit Cheyenne, Taco John’s, Cheyenne Light, Fuel & Power, Wyoming Spine & Neurosurgery, Woman’s Civic League, Franklin Electronic Publishers and Sierra Trading Post.

Registration for next year’s Bee on June 18th, 2011, is open at or by calling 1-877-926-8300.

“It’s an intense, but fun competition,” Summers said. “These spellers show that your ability to learn and grow really can improve with age.”

Rounding out the top five finalists are last year’s winner, Michael Petrina Jr., age 65 of Arlington, VA, and Tony Johnson, age 57 from Lagrange, GA, who finished in fourth and fifth place, respectively. The winning word, “keratomileusis” is a noun that means surgery to correct the cornea.

Audio, video and photos of the winner are available upon request for download. Contact Joanne Bowlby at (307) 640-3514 or to request additional information or interviews with contestants.

About AARP

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world’s largest-circulation magazine with over 35.7 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP’s millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.




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