News » Education » Last time someone other than an Indian American won Spelling Bee was 4,016 days ago

Last time someone other than an Indian American won Spelling Bee was 4,016 days ago

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Since then the United States has had three presidents, the country’s national debt more than doubled.

It has been 4,016 days since a speller outside of the Indian American community has won the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The last such winner was Evan O’Dorney, who won the 2007 Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling the word “serrefine.” O’Dorney, who was in 8th grade at the time, is now 24.

Here are a few facts that will put the historic Indian American title run in context:

The longest championship streak of a North American professional team is eight years — by NBA’s Boston Celtics, who were champions from 1959 to 1966.

Since Sameer Mishra won the Spelling Bee in 2008, there have been three Presidents at the White House; since then the US national debt has more than doubled to surpass $21 trillion; and America’s national obsession, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, had yet to air its first episode

Since Mishra’s victory, Indian American spellers have won 10 Bees and produced 13 winners. In fact, 18 of the past 22 Bee winners have been from the Indian American community

The 10 year streak has seen the likes of elementary schoolers, to siblings, to co-champions, all winning the grand prize. Here is brief rundown of the previous winners from the Indian American spelling dynasty:

Sameer Mishra, 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee

Sameer Mishra won the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee as a 13-year-old eighth grader from West Lafayette Junior-Senior High School, in Indiana, after correctly spelling the word “guerdon”. Mishra won $35,000 in cash and $5,000 in other prizes. He spelled words such as, “demitasse”, “macédoine”, “basenji”, “numnah”, “sinicize”, “hyphaeresis”, and “esclandre” correctly to advance to the final round. Mishra came back to speak at the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Kavya Shivashanker, 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee

13 year old, Olathe, Kansas, native Kavya Shivashanker won the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee after correctly spelling the word “laodicean”. She won $35,000 in cash and $5,000 in other prizes. Six of the top 10 finalists in 2009 were Indian Americans. The 2009 Bee showcased a record 293 spellers, the highest ever in the competitions 90 year history.

Anamika Veeramani, 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee

Anamika Veeramani won the 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee after correctly spelling the word “stromuhr”. Veeramani was an 8th grader at Incarnate Word Academy in Parma Heights, when she won the competition. She won the title after placing fifth in the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee

Sukanya Roy, 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee

Sukanya Roy won the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee after correctly spelling the word     “cymotrichous”. Roy, of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, became the 9th Indian American champion in the previous 13 competitions and the 4th Indian America in a row to win. She was 14 when she won the title.

Snigdha Nandipati, 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee

Snigdha Nandipati won the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee after correctly spelling the word     “guetapens”. Nandipati’s victory not only marked the 5th consecutive year an Indian American has taken home the trophy, but it was also the 4th consecutive year a female speller won. Nandipati received a $30,000 cash prize, an engraved trophy from the E. W. Scripps Company, and over $7,500 in scholarships and other prizes. Nandipati is from San Diego, California and was 14 at the time of the competition.

Arvind Mahankali, 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee

The winner of the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee was Arvind Mahankali, of Bayside Hills, New York. The 13-year-old correctly spelled the word German word “knaidel” effortlessly. Mahankali, who had finished third in 2012, said: “It means that I am retiring on a good note!” It was the fourth time he was taking part at the Spelling Bee. Indian Americans Pranav Sivakumar and Sriram Hathyar finished second and third.

Ansun Sujoe and Sriram Hathwar, 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee

Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe became the first Scripps National Spelling Bee co-champions since 1962. Hathwar, 14, was an eighth grader from Painted Post, New York, while Sujoe, 13, was a seventh grader at Bethesda Christian School, in Fort Worth, Texas.

The top four finishers were all Indian American boys. Among the top 12 finalists, six were Indian Americans.

The winners received a trophy and $33,000 in cash.

Vanya Shivashankar and Gokul Venkatachalam, 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee

For the second time in two years, the Spelling Bee produced Indian American co-champions.

Vanya Shivashankar and  Gokul Venkatachalam went toe to toe each spelling 22 words, before they were declared joint winners. The final word Shivashankar spelled was “scherenschmitte.” Venkatachalam’s last word was “nunatak.” Shivashankar, who was 13, was at the time, was an 8th grader at California Trail Middle School in Olathe, Kansas. (Her sister Kavya Shivashanker was the 2009 champion.) Venkatachalam, 14, was an 8th grader at Parkway West Middle School in Chesterfield, Missouri.

The winners each received a trophy and $35,000, $2,500 in US savings bonds, and other prizes. In all, seven of the 10 finalists were Indian Americans.

Jairam Hathwar and Nihar Janga, 2016 Scripps Spelling Bee

New Yorker Jairam Jagadeesh Hathwar, 13, Texan Nihar Saireddy Janga, 11, became the third co-champions in three years when they won the 89th Scripps National Spelling Bee. Janga spelled the word “Gesellschaft” correctly, while Hathwar spelled “feldenkrais” right. Janga, who was a fifth-grader at River Ridge Elementary School, in Austin, TX, at the time, became the youngest champion in the history of the competition. It was also his first competition.

Hathwar was a seventh-grader at the Alternative School for Math and Science in Painted Post, NY. His brother Sriram was the 2014 champion. The two received the Scripps National Spelling Bee engraved trophy and $40,000 in cash prize. Another Indian American, Snehaa Kumar, finished third.

Ananya Vinay, 2017 Scripps National Spelling Be

Twelve-year-old Ananya Vinay won the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee by successfully spelling the word “marocain”. Vinay won $40,000 in cash and other prizes.  The top four finishers were all Indian American spellers, and according to a report done by the Associated Press, there were three consensus favorites to win the competition, Shourav Dasari, Siyona Mishra, and Tejas Muthusamy, all of whom are Indian American.

(This post has been updated.)


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