Karthik Nemmani of McKinney, Texas wins Scrips Howard Spelling Bee

Karthik Nemmani of McKinney, Texas wins Scrips Howard Spelling Bee

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Washington, June 1 (IANS) Indian-American Karthik Nemmani, was declared champion of the 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee, winning on the word "koinonia" and surviving what was arguably the most intense competition in the contests 93-year history.

In doing so, the 14-year-old on Thursday night emerged the top speller from a record-shattering 515 contestants at the national bee, compared with 291 last year, after organizers expanded eligibility with a new wild-card programme, reports The Washington Post.

Along the way, he had to outlast a field of 16 finalists who vanquished words such as "Praxitelean", "ispaghul" and "telyn" in a breathtaking show of spelling skill broadcast live on ESPN.

But Nemmani, who was competing at his first national bee, displayed the poise of a veteran, seeming to sail through his words: "condottiere" (knight or roving soldier available for hire), "miarolitic" (of igneous rock), "cendre" (a moderate blue), "ankyloglossia" (limited normal movement of the tongue), "grognard," "passus," "shamir" (tiny worm capable to splitting the hardest stone) and "jaguey" (an East Indian tree).

When it was down to two contestants, him and 12-year-old Naysa Modi, Nemmani remained calm as Modi misspelled "Bewusstseinslage".

He then knocked out "haecceitas" (the status of being an individual) before receiving the word that would clinch his win: "koinonia", meaning the Christian fellowship or body of believers.

"I'm just really happy," he said moments after his victory. 

"This has just been a dream come true."

Nemmani also continued a longtime trend by becoming the 14th champion or co-champion of South Asian descent the bee has had in 11 consecutive years, The Washington Post reported.

The 16 spellers took the stage at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Centre in Maryland to battle it out for the title of champion. 

In the first round, nearly half of the finalists misspelled their words, including several crowd favourites such as Tara Singh, a 13-year-old from Kentucky who was competing at her fifth and final national bee.

The 16 finalists ranged in age from 11 to 14 and include nine girls and seven boys. 

The winner of the bee receives $40,000 and a trophy from the Scripps Bee, a $2,500 cash prize (and a complete reference library) from Merriam-Webster, trips to New York and Hollywood as part of a media tour, and a pizza party for their school.


Karthik Nemmani, Speller 471, a Texas eighth grader, is the winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee!

He spelled "koinonia" correctly, an intimate spiritual communion and participative sharing in a common religious commitment and spiritual community.

Karthik said he went 20 rounds toe-to-toe with Naysa Modi in their local Bee, only to be invited to the National Spelling Bee through the RSVBee program – where they would again square off on stage.

“It's pretty cool to be on stage,” he said. “It's what I've been dreaming of for years now.”

It's a lot of work, Karthik said, but worthwhile.

“I had confidence,” he said. “I wouldn't say I expected it.”

When not spelling, Karthik likes to play tennis and watch the Chicago Bulls and the Denver Broncos. He also likes robotics and is looking forward to getting some rest.
Karthik's cousin, Srivatsav Nemmani , Speller 375 also competed. Karthik said it was nice to share the experience with him.

After the trophy was presented, Karthik said he hoped to get this far.

"I had confidence, but I didn't really think it could happen," he said. "It was a dream come true.

Naysa misspells

Naysa Modi, Speller 447 and a Texas seventh grader, misspelled "Bewusstseinslage," a state of consciousness or a feeling devoid of sensory components.

It's Naysa's fourth time at the Bee, and she knows want to expect.

“I'm not overwhelmed,” she said. “I can't help but be happy.”

Naysa said she prepared more this year. Now, she qualified in Texas. Last year, she was here from Louisiana.


Qualifying this year was harder, she said.

Naysa also plays soccer and is learning tae kwon do. She looks up to Simone Biles, Oprah and Ellen. 

About the Bee?

“It's such an exhilarating experience,” she said. “I wouldn't trade it for the world.”

(text, photos from spellingbee.com)


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