The 58th Scripps National Spelling Bee was held in Washington, D.C. at the Capital Hilton on June 5–6, 1985, sponsored by the E.W. Scripps Company.
The winner was 13 year old eighth-grader Balu Natarajan of Bolingbrook, Illinois, in his third appearance at the Bee (he finished 45th in 1983 and 63rd in 1984), the first winner from the Chicago area. He spelled "milieu" for the win. Second place went to 13-year old Kate Lingley of Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, who missed "farrago." Another 13-year old, Tanya Solomon of Kansas City, Missouri, took third, missing "syllepsis."
168 spellers competed this year (a significant increase of 17 over the prior year), 67 boys and 101 girls, including 19 repeat contestants. The age breakdown included one 9-year-old, two 10-year olds, 19 at age 11, 26 at age 12, 65 at age 13, and 55 at age 14. A total of 719 words were used.
Natarajan was the first Indian-American to win the Bee, and has been credited for inspiring the later dominance of Indian-Americans in the bee.
In addition to non-cash gifts, the first-place winner received $1,000. Total prize money to all finalists was $10,500.