Finalists posed at last year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Maryland, including eventual winner Karthik Nemmani (center, in dark blue shirt). Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Elite spellers now can pay to get a spot in the iconic Scripps National Spelling Bee, the Wall Street Journal's Shalini Shankar reports.

Driving the news: Until last year, the only way children could qualify for the National Spelling Bee was by winning a regional contest. The new pay-to-play option called "RSVBee" allows parents to pay for their kids to move on even if they lose at regionals. Parents pay an entry fee of $1,500 and agree to "fund their family’s own travel and lodging, potentially thousands of dollars," according to the Journal.

Why it matters: This year, paying contestants will outnumber the winners at regional tournaments for the first time, according to the Journal. The option doubled the number of people to more than 500.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump's Tucker mind-meld

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images and BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

If you want to understand the rhetorical roots of Trump's Independence Day speech at Mount Rushmore, go back and watch Tucker Carlson's monologues for the past six weeks.

Between the lines: Trump — or rather his speechwriter Stephen Miller — framed the president's opposition to the Black Lives Matter protest movement using the same imagery Carlson has been laying out night after night on Fox.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 11,366,145 — Total deaths: 532,644 — Total recoveries — 6,154,138Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 2,874,396 — Total deaths: 129,870 — Total recoveries: 906,763 — Total tested: 35,512,916Map.
  3. States: Photos of America's pandemic July 4 ICU beds in Arizona hot spot near capacity — Houston mayor warns about hospitals
  4. Public health: U.S. coronavirus infections hit record highs for 3 straight days.
  5. Politics: Former Trump official Tom Bossert says face masks “are not enough”
  6. World: Mexican leaders call for tighter border control as infections rise in U.S.
  7. Sports: Sports return stalked by coronavirus
  8. 1 📽 thing: Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback.

Bolton's hidden aftershocks

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The news media has largely moved on, but foreign government officials remain fixated on John Bolton's memoir, "The Room Where It Happened."

Why it matters: Bolton's detailed inside-the-Oval revelations have raised the blood pressure of allies who were already stressed about President Trump's unreliability.