Negus Spelling Bee Video depicting a clip from a kid at a spelling bee being asked to spell "negus."

Negus Spelling Bee Video

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Updated Aug 20, 2021 at 07:46PM EDT by Zach.

Added Aug 18, 2021 at 04:10PM EDT by Phillip Hamilton.

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Negus Spelling Bee Video refers to a viral video of 12-year-old Andrew Lay being asked to spell the word "negus" at the 2007 Scripps National Spelling Nee. The video went viral due to the word's similarity to the racial slur and how nervous the boy seems trying to figure out the spelling and definition of the word. The video has since been the subject of memes, remaining relevant online over the years since first being uploaded.


On June 2nd, 2007, YouTube[3] channel afromood posted a video titled "2007 Scripps National Spelling Bee Surprise" in which a young contestant at the 2007 Scripps National Spelling Bee[2] named Andrew Lay, which took place on May 31st of that year, is asked to spell the word "negus," which sounds somewhat like "niggas" when spoken by the judges. The boy hesitates and asks the judges to repeat the word a number of times, repeating it carefully. He asks for the language of origin and is told "Ethiopian." He asks for a definition, and the judge says, "the negus ruled Ethiopia until the coup of 1974." One judge asks the boy to say the word for everyone a number of times to ensure he's saying it right. In the end, the boy spells the word correctly as "n-e-g-u-s," resulting in a shocked reaction from himself and the audience. The video gained over 10 million views in 14 years (shown below).

The video's description describes how the judges pronounced the word wrong from the get-go, making this harder on the spelling bee participant:

the judges are pronouncing it wrong to begin with so he was doomed from the beginning. it's not his fault. :) and YES, i am black american. and no, dont say this word and think you can get away with saying it because it's not actually the word "nigga". remember, they are saying the word wrong. it's (nee-goose) and not (nig-gah).


The video was reuploaded and shared across the web numerous times over the following years, often with an additional minute of runtime, gaining millions of views across uploads. On July 17th, 2008, YouTuber[1] la4hi0rocks reposted the video, gaining over 30 million views in 13 years. On January 26th, 2012, YouTuber mebefatboy posted a version of the video with properly synchronized audio, gaining over a million views in nine years (shown below).

The video was notably reacted to by Daniel Tosh of Tosh.o in 2010 for his segment "Is It Racist?", which greatly helped spread the video (shown below).

On April 1st, 2015, YouTuber Dwight Galang posted an edited version of the video replacing various replies from the judges with Kendrick Lamar clips, notably using a clip from his song "i" in which he says the word "negus," gaining over 937,000 views in six years (shown below).

On June 1st, 2017, the Gaston Gazette[4] published an interview with Lay, who was a sixth-grader at the time of the viral video and 22 at the time of the interview, where he talks more about the video.

The video has inspired a number of memes and edits online, remaining popular over a decade later. On December 28th, 2020, YouTuber[5] Negative Memes posted a Let's Go edit using the video, gaining over 290,000 views in eight months (shown below, left). On February 13th, 2021, YouTuber[6] GOOSEPEE – posted a Who Was In Paris? edit using the video, gaining over 3.6 million views in six months (shown below, right).

Various Examples

Search Interest

External References

[1] YouTube – reupload with 30 million views

[2] Alamy – Contestant Andrew Lay

[3] YouTube – afromood

[4] Gaston Gazette – interview with Andrew lay

[5] YouTube – NegativeMemes

[6] YouTube – GOOSEPEE-

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