Arvind Mahankali of New York holds his trophy after winning the Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling “knaidel,” a kind of dumpling. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
Scripps spelling bee won with ‘knaidel’
Arvind Mahankali, 13, wins U.S. spelling bee after years of close calls
After years of heartbreakingly close calls, Arvind Mahankali conquered his nemesis German to become the champion speller in the English language in Oxon Hill, Md.
The 13-year-old from Bayside Hills, N.Y., correctly spelled “knaidel,” a word for a small mass of leavened dough, to win the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday night. The bee tested brain power, composure and, for the first time, knowledge of vocabulary.
Arvind finished in third place in both 2011 and 2012, and both times, he was eliminated on German-derived words. This time, he got one German word in the finals, and the winning word was from German-derived Yiddish, eliciting groans and laughter from the crowd. He spelled both with ease.
“The German curse has turned into a German blessing,” he said.
Arvind outlasted 11 other finalists, all but one of whom had been to the National Spelling Bee before, in nearly 2½ hours of tense, grueling competition that was televised nationally. In one round, all nine participants spelled their words correctly.
When he was announced as the winner, Arvind looked upward at the confetti falling upon him and cracked his knuckles, his signature gesture during his bee appearances. He’ll take home $30,000 US in cash and prizes along with a huge cup-shaped trophy. The skinny teen, clad in a white polo shirt and wire-rimmed glasses pushed down his nose, was joined on stage at the Washington-area hall by his parents and his beaming younger brother.
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