An Indian American teenager has won the 86th annual US Spelling Bee after spelling a German word for a Chinese dumpling.
Arvind Mahankali, 13, from Bayside Hills, New York, had come close to winning the event in 2011 and 2012, but finally prevailed over 11 other contestants after correctly spelling "Knaidel", a German-derived word describing a small mass of leavened dough.
This year's event not only tested spelling but knowledge of vocabulary as well and was telecast nationally.
When he was announced as the winner, Arvind looked upward at the confetti falling upon him and cracked his knuckles, his signature gesture during his bee appearances.
He'll take home $30,000 in cash and prizes along with a huge cup-shaped trophy.
The skinny teen, clad in a white polo shirt and wire-rimmed glasses pushed down his nose, was joined on stage at the Washington-area hall by his parents and his beaming younger brother.
The aspiring physicist - whose parents are originally from Hyderabad - said he would now "retire" from the bee and spend the summer studying physics instead of obscure words.
"At home, my dad used to chant Telegu poems from forward to backward and backward to forward, that kind of thing," said Arvind's father, Srinivas. "So language affinity, we value language a lot. And I love language, I love English."
Arvind becomes the sixth consecutive Indian-American winner and the 11th in the past 15 years, a run that began in 1999 when Nupur Lala captured the title in 1999 and was later featured in the documentary Spellbound.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS