Va. man, 67, wins AARP spelling bee for 2nd time

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (KGWN/Jenna Browder)– On Saturday, August 11, Michael Petrina of Arlington, Virginia won the AARP National Spelling Bee in Cheyenne.

According to CBS affiliate KGWN, Petrina walked away with a $1,000 grand prize and a 5-year AARP membership after correctly spelling “rhizoctonia,” which is a type of imperfect fungi that includes major plant pathogens.

Petrina, a retired attorney, was nearly perfect in his spelling, missing only one word in 47 rounds of oral competition, during which 16 finalists spelled 294 words. The day began with a 100-word written spelling test taken by 48 spellers from 24 states across America.

Petrina was one of three returning champions, and all three made it to the final rounds.

Larry Grossman 60, missed “lamellibranch,” which describes bivalve mollusks such as clams, to place second, taking home a check for $800 and a 3-year AARP membership.

Third place with a prize of $300 and a 1-year AARP membership went to Tony Johnson, 59, from LaGrange, GA, who missed “jow,” which means a stroke or toll of a bell. Spellers ranged in age from 50 to 88.

The AARP National Spelling Bee is open to anyone age 50 or older. It was created in 1996 by a group of AARP members in Cheyenne who wanted a fun way to challenge their peers to keep their minds sharp as they age.

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