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2018 National Spelling Bee: Latest Betting Odds and Predictions

By Noah Davis
Published on May 25, 2018
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The 91st Scripps National Spelling Bee touches down at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, on May 29th.

The contest runs through May 31st, hoping to crown the third solo champion in the last five years. Ananya Vinay ended a three-year run of co-champions in 2017 when she correctly spelled the word “marocain.”

I remember the last spelling bee I was in. It was high school, and I was one of the first kids out. It was a stupid word like arugula or something.

It’s one of those words where you totally know what it is, but when you try picturing it inside the abyss of your mind, it comes out as “arugala” or “orangutan” or “gargoyle.”

Needless to say, it can get away from you pretty quickly, and asking your teacher to use it in a sentence doesn’t help. That’s just a stall tactic, and everyone knows it.

I pleaded with my teacher to create a double-elimination bracket, but she said those were reserved only for basketball tournaments.

Challenging her further seemed too exhausting, so I let it slide.

Later, when I was in college, I fell in love with spell check, and as a professional online writer, it’s made me feel like an amazing speller to this day.

In all seriousness, spelling bees seem easy if you’re watching them from afar, but once you get into the weeds, it’s pretty tense, and even the simplest words can suddenly feel foreign.

A litany of wordsmiths will try to combat the pressure to take the crown in a matter of days, but it’s any guess who it will be.

While most of the top entertainment betting sites aren’t producing spelling bee odds as far as the actual winners, bettors can get in on the action with some fun National Spelling Bee prop bets.

BetOnline has been one of the better novelty betting sites, and they currently offer five fun spelling bee wagers. Here’s a look at each bet with their odds and my personal pick.

All odds that are referenced in this article were taken from BetOnline on 5/24/2018. These odds may have changed since the time of this writing.

Number of Letters in Winning Word

It’s not always about how long a word is, but often the origin and how it’s relayed to the speller.

Last year’s winning word was just eight letters, while a word as short as “luge” won back in 1984.

The words aren’t even always difficult, either. Last year’s wasn’t necessarily easy, but kids have won with words like “therapy” and the aforementioned “luge.”

Level of difficulty is pretty subjective, but the letter count is not. Unfortunately, it’s fairly unpredictable.

Here’s where BetOnline sets the Over/Under:

Over 9.5 letters+100
Under 9.5 letters-140

There have been a lot of words right around this range, but there have been a slew that are well below the 9.5 Total.

Judging by recent history (three of the last four went Over), I think chasing the upside here makes some sense.

PICKOver 9.5 letters+100

Winner – Male or Female?

This one could obviously go either way. Like heads or tails, you’ve got a 50% chance, and it honestly might be slightly worse than that if there are co-champions.

More on that in a second, but in the last 20 years of the spelling bee, 13 boys either shared the title or won it outright, and nine girls have shared or gone solo as well.

Male-130
Female-110

Boys hold the edge here, but the gap isn’t that wide.

Considering a boy has at least been a co-champion in each of the last four spelling bees, though, I’m fine with bucking the trend and obtaining a little more value on the female side.

PICKFemale-110

Winner – Wearing Glasses?

Perhaps BetOnline is jumping on the smart kid stereotype here and assuming these kids are all nerds and naturally wear glasses.

As a person who has four eyes by choice and necessity, I take offense.

Yes-130
No-110

All jokes aside, this is a fun and fairly valid spelling bee prop bet.

In the past 20 years, 10 of the kids wore glasses. You get a 50% chance here, so even though the value dips a bit, I don’t mind rolling with the “yes” side.

PICKYes-130



Winner – Will They Have Braces?

This is just a fun one. Obviously, these are all kids at a fairly young age, which is roughly the time when a lot of parents assess their tooth situation and decide whether or not they need extreme dental care.

Yes+150
No-200

The value on “yes” here is through the roof, but only four contestants in the last 20 spelling bees had braces. This is a fun one to watch, and you’d ultimately be cheering on pretty much just the kids with braces.

Maybe this is also just one to avoid. Either way, past history points you to the “no” side of this spelling bee wager.

PICKNo-200



Will There Be a Co-Champion?

As stated before, three of the last four spelling bee titles have been shared, and three of them actually were consecutive.

It’s always better to get one stand-alone champ, but that’s not always possible. Besides, BetOnline is daring you to bet there will be another shared title with this alluring price.

Yes+150
No-200

The majority of spelling bee competitions are decided with one winner, but these kids are so smart these days that they tend to go back and forth.

The contest has to end eventually, and given the talent level and past co-champion success recently, I don’t mind chasing the upside at +150.

PICKYes+150

Summary

The spelling bee is a fun event to tune into at the end, whether you opt to bet on it or not, but throwing a little cash on some spelling bee prop bets certainly makes it more interesting.

This is not the most obvious betting market to target, but it’s often the more obscure markets that offer the best value.

If you plan on sitting in front of a TV and taking this whole thing in over a few days, it makes sense to boost your entertainment with a shot at winning cash. And we all know how to spell w-i-n-n-i-n-g!

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2018 National Spelling Bee: Latest Betting Odds and Predictions
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2018 National Spelling Bee: Latest Betting Odds and Predictions
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Here we give you a preview of the 91st Scripps National Spelling Bee with a look at some of the top prop bets BetOnline has to offer.
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