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:

8 PHOTOS
National Spelling Bee 2016
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Contestants from Texas, NY state co-champs of US Spelling Bee
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
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
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)
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)
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)
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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