Founded in 1925, the Scripps National Spelling Bee prepares to crown its 2016 champion live on ESPN this Thursday. TIME talked with eight former champions from the long history of the bee to see what they did next, where they are today and how the study prep for bees helped them get there. Most of these well-rounded professionals described the moment of victory as their 15 minutes of fame, but some did say their winning words have come up throughout their lives in the most unexpected and hilarious ways. Here are their stories:

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