Contestants from Texas, NY state co-champs of US Spelling Bee

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NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., May 26 (Reuters) - Nihar Janga, a fifth-grader from Austin, Texas, and Jairam Hathwar, a seventh-grader from Painted Post, New York, were declared co-champions of the U.S. Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday.

The pair battled head to head for 25 rounds in the finals. They ended co-winners when Jairam, 13, correctly spelled 'feldenkrais', a method of education, and Nihar, 11, aced 'gesellschaft', a type of social relationship.

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"I can't say anything. I'm just in fifth grade," Nihar said after sharing the title and thanking his mother.

The tie is the third in a row in the Bee, a U.S. institution since 1925, and comes despite the contest introducing tougher rules this year to avoid another deadlock. Jairam and Nihar will each receive a $40,000 cash prize.

They are the ninth consecutive victors of South Asian ancestry, and the 12th in 16 years. Jairam's brother Sriram was the 2014 co-champion.

See images from the final:

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Contestants from Texas, NY state co-champs of US Spelling Bee
Nihar Saireddy Janga, 11, left, and Jairam Jagadeesh Hathwar, 13, hold the trophy as they celebrate being named the co-champions of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, May 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Nihar Saireddy Janga of Austin, TX, leaps for joy upon spelling the last word to become a co-champion in the final round of Scripps National Spelling Bee at National Harbor in Maryland, U.S., May 26, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Nihar Saireddy Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas, reacts to correctly spelling a word during the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, May 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Nihar Saireddy Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas, reacts to correctly spelling a word during the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, May 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Sylvie Lamontagne of Lakewood, CO, reacts while trying to spell a word during the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee at National Harbor in Maryland, U.S., May 26, 2016.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Sylvie Lamontagne, 13, from Lakewood, Colo., correctly spells her word during the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, May 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - MAY 26: Mitchell Robson of Marblehead, Massachusetts, participates in the finals of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee May 26, 2016 in National Harbor, Maryland. Students from across the country gathered to competed for top honor of the annual spelling championship. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Mitchell Robson, 14, of Danvers, Mass. reacts to correctly spelling his word during the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, May 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - MAY 26: Kyra Holland of Warrenton, Virginia, participates in the finals of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee May 26, 2016 in National Harbor, Maryland. Students from across the country gathered to competed for top honor of the annual spelling championship. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Kyra Holland, 14, of Warrenton, Va., puts her hands through her hair during the morning round of the finals of the 2016 National Spelling Bee, in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, May 26, 2016. Holland did not spell her word correctly. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - MAY 26: Ameera Waterford of Makawao, Hawaii, reacts after she misspelled her word in the finals of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee May 26, 2016 in National Harbor, Maryland. Students from across the country gathered to competed for top honor of the annual spelling championship. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - MAY 26: Spellers Cooper Komatsu (R) of Los Angeles, California, celebrates with Snehaa Ganesh Kumar (L) of Folsom, California after he correctly spelled his word in the finals of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee May 26, 2016 in National Harbor, Maryland. Students from across the country gathered to competed for top honor of the annual spelling championship. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Cooper Komatsu, 13, celebrates as he spells his word correctly during the finals of the 2016 National Spelling Bee, in National Harbor, Md., on Thursday, May 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Snehaa Ganesh Kumar, 13, of Folsom, Calif., reacts to correctly spelling her word during the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, May 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Sreeniketh Vogoti, 13 of Saint Johns, Fla., correctly spells 'moshav' during the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, May 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Chaunte Blackwood, 13, of Kingston, Jamaica, correctly spells her word during the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, May 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Tara Singh, 11, of Louisville, Ky., incorrectly spells her word during the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, May 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Ethan Gomulka, 11, of San Bernardino, Calif., center, puts his lanyard over his ears as competition continues in the preliminaries of the 2016 National Spelling Bee, in National Harbor, Md., Wednesday, May 25, 2016. At left is Syaal Sharifzad, 12, of Monterey, Calif., and Ella Peters, 13, of San Diego, Calif., is at right. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Ananya Vinay, 11, of Fresno, Calif., sitting next to Cooper Komatsu, 13, of Los Angeles, yawns during during the preliminaries of the 2016 National Spelling Bee, in National Harbor, Md., Wednesday, May 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - MAY 26: Jairam Jagadeesh Hathwar of Painted Post, New York, waits for his turn to spell in the finals of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee May 26, 2016 in National Harbor, Maryland. Students from across the country gathered to competed for top honor of the annual spelling championship. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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