For the most part, yes. Among the winners, there are lots of graduates of top schools and plenty of other successes. Unsurprisingly, many of them go into brainy professions, becoming doctors and lawyers. One even became a prominent journalist and was part of a newspaper team that won a Pulitzer Prize.
Max Nisen contributed to a previous version of this post.
Frank Neuhauser won the very first spelling bee with the word "Gladiolus" and was a patent lawyer at GE and Bernard Rothwell & Brown. He lived to age 97.
1969 winner Susan Yoachum was a journalist and part of a San Jose Mercury News team that won a Pulitzer in 1989. She later became political editor of The San Francisco Chronicle.
Jonathan Knisely won in 1971 with the word "shaloon," and is now a doctor and faculty member at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.
1973 winner Barrie Trinkle went to MIT, spent more than a decade at NASA's Jet Propulsion lab, and worked as an editor at Amazon.
Bailly, the 1980 winner, is an associate professor of Classics at the University of Vermont and the bee's official pronouncer.
1981 winner Paige Pipkin was runner-up to Jacques Bailly in 1980. She couldn't shake the spelling bee; she currently serves as its executive director.
1988 champion Rageshree Ramachandran started studying at Stanford at age 16, and is now an associate professor of pathology and director at the University of California, San Francisco's medical school.
1989 winner Scott Isaacs is now a spelling coach and academic director of the Spelling Bee of China.
1992 winner Amanda Goad went to Harvard Law School and now works as an LGBTQ rights attorney and director of the LGBTQ, Gender & Reproductive Justice Project for the ACLU.
Wendy Guey, the 1996 winner, is a public school teacher in Boston.
Rebecca Sealfon, the 1997 winner, remembered for screaming each letter of her last word, is the founder and CEO of ResearchMatch, a startup that helps professors and students collaborate.
Jody-Anne Maxwell, the first Jamaican winner of the bee in 1998, earned her law degree in 2018.
1999 winner Nupur Lala was a star of the 2002 documentary "Spellbound," spent time as a brain researcher at MIT, and plans to enter medical school.
George Thampy, the 2000 winner, graduated Harvard in 2010 and obtained an MBA from Stanford in 2017.
Pratyush Buddiga, the 2002 winner, was a fixture on the professional poker circuit. Now he's involved in cryptocurrency.
2003's winner, Sai Gunturi, graduated from Tufts in 2011 with a degree in quantitative economics.
David Tidmarsh, the 2004 champion, now lives in Paris and is working on a graduate degree in computer science.
In 2005, Anurag Kashyap spelled "Appoggiatura" correctly to win. He went on to win the "Jeopardy!" Teen Tournament as well.
2006 winner Kerry Close graduated from Cornell University in 2014.
2007 National Spelling Bee winner is just one of Evan O'Dorney's many accolades.
Sameer Mishra took home the 2008 trophy, and is now an independent contributor to the Spelling Bee.