It’s ninth year in a row Indian Americans are winning the Bee.
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD: New Yorker Jairam Jagadeesh Hathwar, 13, and 11-year-old Texan Nihar Saireddy Janga have won the 89th Scripps National Spelling Bee here on Thursday night.
This is the ninth successive time Indian American spellers have won the prestigious championship.
The final word Janga spelled correctly was “Gesellschaft,” while Hathwar spelled “feldenkrais” right.
Janga, a fifth-grader at River Ridge Elementary School in Austin, TX, became the youngest champion in the history of the competition. It was his first Bee.
“I am speechless, I am only in fifth grade,” said Janga, when asked about his reaction. “I just want to go home and start playing video games.”
Hathwar is the second member of his family to become a Bee champion. His brother Sriram won the contest in 2014. “When [Sriram] won the Spelling Bee, it was such an inspiration to do it,” Jairam said.
Earlier speaking to The American Bazaar, Hathwar said: “It feels great because I knew this was tough competition and I’m happy to have made it this far. Well he’s been very supportive of me, always cheering me on through all stages of the competition.”
The two champions, who received the Scripps National Spelling Bee engraved trophy, will also get a $40,000 cash prize.
Last year’s Bee also resulted in a standstill, with eventual co-champions Gokul Venkatachalam and Vanya Shivashankar correctly spelling an incredible 22 words. This year’s championship round was intentionally made more difficult in order to prevent a marathon between the final two, which has happened in the past two consecutive spelling bees.
Another Indian American, Snehaa Kumar, finished third. Spelled the “usicapion” incorrectly, leaving Jairam and Nihar as the final two.