Saketh Jonnalagadda, Kapil Nathan finish 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
WASHINGTON, DC: Rishi Nair, a fifth-grader from Lincoln Magnet School, Plant City, Florida, won the 2016 National Geographic Bee, with two other Indian Americans grabbing the second and third spots as well.
Saketh Jonnalagadda, an 8th grader at Stony Brook Middle School, Westford, Massachusetts, was the runner-up, while last year’s finalist Kapil Nathan, a 6th grader from Hoover, Alabama, got the second runner-up spot.
In the final round, Nair got six of the seven answers right, while Jonnalagadda got five right.
Asked whom does he have to thank, Nair said: “Myself obviously, and my mom.”
Asked one adjective to describe his feeling, Nair responded: “Proud.”
With seven out of the 10 finalists in the National Geographic Bee comprising of Indian Americans, the odds were stacked heavily in favor of yet another Indian American winning the competition. And that was indeed the case, at the National Geographic Society in Washington, DC, where the finals were held, today.
It’s the fifth straight year an Indian American contestant has won the Bee, with the previous winners being: Rahul
Nagvekar in 2012, Sathwik Karnik in 2013, Akhil Rekulapelli in 2014, and Karan Menon in 2015.
Nair got a $50,000 college scholarship and a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society. He will also get to travel (along with one parent or guardian), on an all-expenses paid trip on a Lindblad expedition to Alaska aboard National Geographic Sea Lion, including a stop at Glacier Bay National Park, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
The second and third place winners received $25,000 and $10,000 college scholarships, respectively.
The 10 finalists were:
- Kapil Nathan — Alabama
- Rishi Nair — Florida
- Rishi Kumar — Maryland
- Saketh Jonnalagadda — Massachusetts
- Lucas Eggers — Minnesota
- Grace Rembert — Montana
- Samanyu Dixit — North Carolina
- Ashwin Sivakumar — Oregon
- Pranay Varada — Texas
- Thomas Wright — Wisconsin.
Nair had earlier won the Florida state championship beating more than 100 fourth-through eighth-grade students from the Panhandle to the Keys, and two tie-breakers in the final.
Humorist, author and “CBS Sunday Morning” correspondent Mo Rocca was the host of the finals this year. Alex Trebek was the host for 25 years before stepping down after the 2013 bee.
The final round of the Bee will be aired on the National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Friday, May 27. It will also be aired on public television stations; check local television listings for dates and times.
Watch the interview with Rishi Nair