Top 3 are Indian Americans as are 7 out of the top 10.
By Raif Karerat
WASHINGTON, DC: A 14-year-old Indian American won the National Geographic Bee on Wednesday, trumping more than 50 other finalists to take home a $50,000 college scholarship, all-expenses paid trip to the Galapagos Islands, and lifetime membership to the National Geographic Society.
Karan Menon, an eighth grader at John Adams Middle School in Edison, N.J., told National Geographic that he was “on top of the world” following his win.
“This is the high of my life,” he exclaimed to My Central Jersey. All of his past achievements combined would have to be multiplied by infinity to reach the feeling this win gave him, Karan gushed.
In the championship round, he faced off against 11-year-old Shriya Yarlagadda of Michigan, during which host Soledad O’Brien asked a series of seven questions and the contestants had just 12 seconds to write down their answers.
While Menon answered all seven questions correctly, Yarlagadda, also an Indian American, missed just one, relegating the youngster to the runner-up position for which she received a $25,000 college scholarship. Third place and a $10,000 college scholarship went to Sojas Wagle of Arkansas, a 13-year-old eighth grader.
Of the 10 finalists, seven were of Indian origin. Other finalists included Kapil Nathan, a 10-year-old fifth grader from Birmingham, Alabama; Nicholas Monahan, a 12-year-old sixth grader from Idaho; Patrick Taylor, a 12-year-old seventh grader from Iowa; Abhinav Karthikeyan, a 12-year-old sixth grader from Maryland; Lucy Chae, a 13-year-old seventh grader from Massachusetts; Shreyas Varathan, a 14-year-old eighth grader from Minnesota; and Tejas Badgujar, a 13-year-old eighth grader from Pennsylvania. Each received a $500 prize, according to the Press Trust of India.
The last question, which clinched the win for Menon, was: “If completed, the proposed Grand Inga Dam would become the world’s largest hydropower plant. This dam would be built near Inga Falls on which African river?”
The Congo River was the correct answer. Yarlagadda missed just the first question: “Mariupol, a city located at the mouth of the Kalmius River, is located on what sea that is an arm of the Black Sea,” to which the correct answer was the Sea of Azov.
“The questions were really challenging. Some of them I’d studied, but for some of them, I had to take a risk,” Karan told My Central Jersey. “I just had to go with my gut and say an answer.”