If you don't succeed the first time, try again and again! That is exactly what New York teen Arvind Mahankali did, and the perseverance finally paid off on Thursday, May 30th, when the 13-year old became the 86th National Spelling Bee Champion. Besides earning the coveted title, the youngster also took home a cash prize of $30,000 USD and a giant trophy!
The spectacular grand finale came after a strenuous week of competition that was held in Washington D.C. and for the first time in the Spelling Bee's 86-year history, also included a vocabulary test. What made the victory even sweeter for the Bayside Hills, NY, resident is that unlike 2011 and 2012 when he had to settle for third place because he tripped over words derived from the German language, this time around he seemed to have conquered the language and was able to confidently spell the winning word - 'k-n-a-i-d-e-l', which means a small mass of leavened dough. The icing on the cake? Arvind is the first New York contestant to win the title in 16 years!
Though the youngster made it look easy, it was anything but that. With all but one contestant having been to the Spelling Bee finals before, this year's final 11 were a seasoned bunch, and it took Arvind 2 1/2 hours to outspell them!
Anil's win caps off the sixth straight year that Americans of Indian origin have won this prestigious competition and 11th in the last 14 years. In addition to that, they have also dominated the runner-up categories. This year was no exception. 13-year old Pranav Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas, came in second after stumbling over 'cyanophycean', a blue-green algae, while Sriram Hatwar also from New York, came in at third.
Now that he is officially retired from the Spelling Bee, Arvind, an avid fan of Albert Einstein, plans to spend the summer focusing on his first love - Physics! To read more about this fun competition and see how you can participate, go to www.spellingbee.com.