Reporter beats lawmakers to win charity spelling bee
© Noel St. John/The National Press Club

A team of journalists beat lawmakers Tuesday night in the National Press Club's annual "Press vs. Politicians Spelling Bee," with Todd Gillman of the Dallas Morning News as the champion.

Gillman was one of seven journalists who competed against a team of seven lawmakers to raise money for the National Press Club Journalism Institute.

The bee's second round consisted of words from the hit musical "Hamilton."

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At one point, Rep. Suzanne BonamiciSuzanne Marie BonamiciSpending bill prevents employers from pocketing tips under tip-pooling rule GOP chairman questions US funding for international cancer research agency Dems want info on Labor Dept hiding unfavorable report on impacts of tip-pooling rule MORE (D-Ore.) asked the moderator to use the word "manumission" in a sentence, and the audience laughed as she quoted lines from the musical.

Round three saw words with an alcohol theme.

Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) was eliminated after misspelling “wassail,” a type of hot cider.

“I’m definitely out of my league on this. I don’t drink,” said Rep. Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann FoxxDems warn school vouchers for military families could 'derail' annual defense bill Just Do It!: Modernize the Higher Education Act Congress must act before America falls into a student loan debt crisis MORE (R-N.C.). But Foxx was still able to correctly spell “sangria” to advance.

“I should tell you I am with Virgina Foxx. I am an abstemious, teetotaling prohibitionist, so this is not my round,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) joked. “I’m interested in which big liquor interest sponsored this category.”

The lawmakers managed to hold an overall lead through the fifth round, before the journalists pulled even in the sixth.

It was a lighthearted affair throughout.

Asked to spell "damson," Raskin jokingly responded: "I thought you said covfefe,” to laughter.

After misspelling his word, he gave a shout out to his constituents and left the stage.

Bonamici, Foxx and Rep. Doug Lamborn (D-Colo.) also bowed out, leaving two remaining lawmakers: Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.), the bee’s 2015 champion.

The two slowly picked off many of the journalists.

A particularly difficult round on the spellings of U.S. rivers left only Deutch and Gillman on the stage.

Deutch then misspelled “stela,” a term for a tall stone or column used as a monument.

Gillman then spelled “somatotype” correctly to earn the title.

After he finished the word, the audience, unsure of the correct spelling, slowly began clapping. The applause turned into a roar once the judges confirmed Gillman was correct.

Gillman said he was surprised to win and said luck played a big role.

“There really weren't a lot of words until the very end that I got that I didn't know, whereas there were a lot of words that other competitors got that I absolutely didn't know,” he said.

The other journalists on his team included Art Swift of Gallup, Alexandra Petri of The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim of Politico, Hadas Gold of CNN, Vann Newkirk II of The Atlantic and Jonathan Salant of NJ Advance Media.

“I think the press really brought it tonight,” Deutch said of his competitors. “I think they come in with a built-in advantage of having to write words on a daily basis.”

This wasn’t the first time Deutch has been runner-up at the bee. “I was excited to be the last member of Congress standing,” he said. “But that's two years in a row and I'd really like to win this thing.”

He’s already looking ahead to next year’s bee. “Now that there's actually a championship belt, I'm going to come back and work twice as hard.”