By BEN NUCKOLS
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Scripps National Spelling Bee has announced a rule change that could result in the field of spellers nearly doubling, from fewer than 300 to more than 500.
Previously, spellers had to win their regional bee to make it to nationals. Under the change announced Tuesday, Scripps will hand out up to 225 wild cards to spellers who've won bees at the school level.
The motivation behind the change is to level what has become an uneven playing field at regional bees. A handful of regions around the United States are extraordinarily competitive. In some cases, spellers who made the national finals one year didn't even get back to nationals the next year.
Scripps will give top priority for wild cards to those who've been to nationals before.
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