How do you spell f-o-o-l?

Washington, D.C.

Kiran Chetry, the co-anchor of CNN’s American Morning, got painfully shook this morning during what should have been a pretty easy interview. Her subject was Evan O’Dorney, the 13-year-old eighth-grader from Danville, Calif. who won the Scripps National Spelling Bee yesterday after nailing “serrefine.” Unfortunately, there’s no YouTube video of this train wreck, but I’ve been able to hunt down a transcript. Some of the highlights:

Chetry gets off to a great start, by mispronouncing the kid’s name:

CHETRY: Evan, thanks for being with us.

O’DORNEY: Did you say my name wrong? My name is Evan O’Dorney.

CHETRY: Evan O’Dorney. I am sorry if I said it wrong.

Then, the well-researched questions and every broadcast journalist’s nightmare — zero elaboration on answers — begin:

CHETRY: Were you surprises that you won?

O’DORNEY: Not really.


CHETRY: What did your mom say when you finally won?

O’DORNEY: Well, I don’t know what my mom said. You better ask my mom if you want the answer to that question.

CHETRY: All right, let me ask your mom. You’re making this tough for me today, Evan.

Fed some random fodder from a producer, she continues:

CHETRY: Well, here’s one thing I hope I’m right about. You like to eat a Subway tuna fish sub before every competition? You didn’t get to do that yesterday.

O’DORNEY: What did you just say?

CHETRY: I said you didn’t get to do that yesterday?


CHETRY: Why not?

O’DORNEY: I’m not sure. We just — well, they had the — they had a special dinner before the bee.

But the real magic happens at the end, when Chetry attemps to give O’Dorney a word to spell (why does every interview with these champs have to include some futile attempt to trip them up?). Check out the brutality after the jump.

UPDATE: There’s video available. And, Best Week Ever has just discovered the mess, too.

CHETRY: Can I ask you about whether or not you can spell this word I am going to give you right now. Are you ready for it?


CHETRY: Scombridae. It’s a noun, marine food fishes like mackerels, perhaps some of the things that are in a tuna sub. Can you spell it for me?

O’DORNEY: Well, let me make sure I’m saying it right, Stambruday?

CHETRY: Scombridae.

O’DORNEY: Scombridae. So it’s plural?


O’DORNEY: Scombridae. It’s French?

CHETRY: I don’t know that part. Basically it’s the family of fishes that tuna is a part of.

O’DORNEY: Scombridae?

CHETRY: That’s right. Unless I’m saying it wrong like your last name. I hope not. You want to just give it a try?

O’DORNEY: Yes, if you’re not saying it right, I’ll probably not spell it right. I can’t spell it without the Language. Is it Latin?

CHETRY: They’re telling me it is Latin.


CHETRY: You got it right! There it is. Yes, or no?

Then, after a pause:

CHETRY: Oh, you added an extra ‘e.’ I’m sorry, but you know what, that was pretty good.

O’DORNEY: Did you say scombridae or scomburdae?

CHETRY: Scombridae.

O’DORNEY: Scombridae?

CHETRY: Yes. You want to try it one more time?

O’DORNEY: Are saying it is S-C-O-M-B-R-I-D-A-E.

CHETRY: Ding, ding, ding! That’s it. You got it. So not only did you win the most important one, the one that gave you the cash, you won the little AMERICAN MORNING one, as well. But really…

O’DORNEY: It’s because I couldn’t hear you. I thought you were saying scomberdae.

CHETRY: I got you.

O’DORNEY: That’s why I put the ‘e.’

CHETRY: I needed to pronounce it better. But you know what, you’re a champ, and congratulations. I hope you’re enjoying the victory lap Evan O’Dorney. I’ll get right from now. See you later.



  1. That interview is hilarious. I wish I saw this live.

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