As if the National Spelling Bee needed more drama, renowned speller and sportsman Shaquille O'Neal made an appearance and promptly challenged last year's winner, Kavya Shivashankar, to a spell-off.
Via the Sports Bog's Dan Steinberg:
[Shaq] also said that the 10 remaining contestants, plus Shivashankar's adorable little sister, would be his coaches.Steinberg then reported that the Shaq-Kavya face-off was taped later in the day without the media in attendance. To no doubt prolong the suspense for the made-for-television spectacle that's sure to follow.
"I've got my bachelor's degree and my masters degree," he told the audience and spellers. "If you don't believe me, kitten, K-I-T-T-E-N," he continued. "Do you accept my challenge?"
"I have a bachelors and a masters and there were like 10 words this morning that I never heard," Shaq told an WMAR reporter. "... These kids are super intelligent and even the ones that misspelled the words that I never heard or seen before, I'm very proud of them. ... There's no way a 13-year-old can beat me. ... That's my mentality anyway."