Wild Card Contender From Texas Wins The 2018 National Spelling Bee

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Photo Credit: Scripps National Spelling Bee via Facebook

On Thursday, May 31, 14-year-old Karthik Nemmani stunned the world when he beat crowd favorite and veteran competitor Naysa Modi, to win the coveted Scripps National Spelling Bee championship. His winning word? Koinonia, an obscure word of Greek origin, which means “an intimate spiritual or Christian communion.” The Texas eighth grader’s opportunity came unexpectedly in the first championship round after Naysa mixed up the single and double “s” in bewusstseinslage, a German-derived word which means “a state of consciousness or a feeling devoid of sensory components.”

Karthik’s victory was particularly poignant given that in any other year, the teenager from Scoggins Middle School in McKinney, TX would not have been eligible for the finals. He did not, after all, win his county or even regional spelling bee. In fact, it was Naysa who had defeated him and other competitors in March at the Golden Chick Dallas Regional Spelling Bee.

Spelling Bee runner-up Naysa Modi (Photo Credit: Scripps National Bee via Facebook

However, Karthik managed to get a wild card entry thanks to a new program called the RSVBee, which allowed spellers who had won their school bee, or previously competed on the national stage, to qualify for the competition. The program, which added 238 competitors for a total record-breaking 515 contestants to the national tournament, gave competent spellers like Karthik a second chance at showing their prowess. "It's [the RSVBee has] been great from the speller perspective. We see the program as a way to level the playing field," said Bee spokesperson Valerie Miller.

In addition to the bragging rights, Karthik also received a trophy and prizes worth $40,000, including $25,000 in cash, trips to New York and Los Angeles for appearances on national television, a reference library from Merriam-Webster, and a pizza party for his school. The teenager, who arranged block letters to spell “horse” when he was three and won his first spelling bee at age five, is the 14th consecutive spelling bee winner of Indian descent. Though Naysa, who has been vying for the championship for the past four years, did not get to fulfill her dream, she did go home with $30,000 in prize money. Moreover, the seventh-grader still has a chance to take home the trophy next year!

The sixteen finalists (Photo Credit: Scripps National Bee via Facebook)

Now celebrating its 91st year, the National Spelling Bee, which attracted over 11 million kids, or 31 percent of all eligible students, in 2018 has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Preparations for the grueling elimination-based tournament begin in earnest long before the competitions, with serious contenders spending as much as four hours a day poring over dictionaries and word etymology lists. Some, like this year’s champion Karthik, even hire “spelling coaches” — past winners and participants of the bee — to help them master the vocabulary.

Resources: USAtoday.com, guardian.co.uk, news.yahoo.com

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  1. Why did Karthik Nemmani stun the world on Thursday May 31?
  2. What was his winning word?
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127 Comments
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  • 99999Tuesday, June 19, 2018 at 1:32 pm
    I love spelling bees
    • Kylie 8896Tuesday, June 19, 2018 at 12:57 pm
      I wish I won that😁😁
      • michaelTuesday, June 19, 2018 at 12:40 pm
        I wish I cod be ther
        • ??????Monday, June 18, 2018 at 6:33 pm
          Wonder how hard the words were????
          • Audreyg555Monday, June 18, 2018 at 4:13 am
            Awesome I like to spell words too.
            • spykitten
              spykittenSunday, June 17, 2018 at 12:42 pm
              Wow! Both of them did a great job. That was amazing!
              • bunnieicecream
                bunnieicecreamSunday, June 17, 2018 at 12:25 pm
                I asked my sister to spell each of the words.She spelled the boys word but she couldn't spell Naysa's word😕
                • bunnieicecream
                  bunnieicecreamSunday, June 17, 2018 at 12:20 pm
                  I'm NOT the best at spelling but I think that Naysa got a harder word.They both did awesome though😀😀😊
                  • acting_music124
                    acting_music124Sunday, June 17, 2018 at 3:52 am
                    Congrats! I don't think I can do that ether! Both did great!
                    • Lilly Thursday, June 14, 2018 at 6:43 pm
                      Wow I don’t think I could do that.

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