Indian American Pranay Varada wins 2017 National Geographic Bee

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Indian American Veda Bhattaram from New Jersey finished third

Pranay Varada (Courtesy of twitter)

Indian American Pranay Varada on Wednesday won the 29th annual National Geographic Bee. He is the sixth consecutive Indian American to win the championship.

The 14-year-old Dewitt Perry Middle School’s eighth grader from Texas, who also competed in the last year’s finals, was presented with a $50,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership to the National Geographic Society, and an all-expenses-paid Lindblad expediton to the Galapagos Islands aboard the new National Geographic Endeavour II.

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Varada beat runner-up Thomas Wright, 14, in an event hosted by journalist and humorist Mo Rocca at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The victory came after an exciting 5-5 in the final round and with a tiebreaker in a written round by just a few letters, putting “Kunlan” instead of Wright’s “Kunshan.” The question was: What large mountain system that stretches more than 1,200 miles separates the Taklamakan Desert from the Tibetan Plateau? The answer is: Kunlun.

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Before the finals, Varada told National Geographic that winning the bee was a five-year effort of his.

“It would be the greatest experience of my life,” he said.

Another Indian American Veda Bhattaram from New Jersey finished third at the finals and six out of the ten contestants in this year’s final were middle school students of Asian Indian background.

Second and third prize winners also received scholarships of $25,000 and $10,000, respectively.

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