Texas boy spells 'koinonia' correctly, wins Scripps National Spelling Bee

Courtesy Google Trends

The final two spellers, Naysa Modi, 12, from Frisco, Texas, left, and Karthik Nemmani, 14, from McKinney, Texas, wait to spell their words during the evening finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, May 31, 2018.

To even get to that point, the finalists had to survive almost five hours of onstage spelling that started Thursday morning.

Third place contestant, Abhijay Kodali, is also from Texas.

"This has just been a dream come true".

He said there were eight or nine words during the prime-time finals he didn't know - a rare admission for a national champion. As the judges of the Scripps National Spelling Bee explain, "in a competition where letters and words reign supreme, numbers define who advances to spell another day".

Of the past 23 champions, 19 have had Indian heritage.

He then knocked out "haecceitas" (the status of being an individual) before receiving the word that would clinch his win: "koinonia", meaning the Christian fellowship or body of believers.

Like many top spellers, Karthik was a precocious preschooler - he arranged block letters to spell "horse" at age 3 and won his first spelling bee at 4½, his dad said. She first competed in the bee as a cherubic 9-year-old.

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Mayor Anne Hildalgo nicknamed Gassama as the "Spider-Man of 18th" in reference to the district where the boy was rescued. Gassama, for his part, met with French President Emanuel Macron who said he would make Gassama a full French citizen.

Nemmani will take home a trophy and $40,000 in prizes, a $25,000 cash prize, a reference library from Merriam-Webster, and trips to NY and Hollywood. He takes home more than $42,000 in cash and prizes.

Indian-origin children have won the Spelling Bee championship for 11 continuous years since Sameer Mishra won in 2008.

Her most challenging word so far?

Chillicothe's Nilla Rajan missed the word popliteal (of or relating to the back part of the leg behind the knee joint) in the fifth round after correctly spelling primavera (served with a mixture of fresh vegetables) in Thursday's initial onstage round.

"He just really wanted to get it", he said.

Raghav, 12, of Montpelier, competing with the best spellers in the country, correctly spelled perionychia (definition: "the tissue bordering the root and sides of the fingernail or toenail").

A record-shattering 516 spellers qualified - compared to 291 the year before.

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