Indian-American leading the spelling bee

New winner the thirteenth in a row from the community to ace the competition


June 5, 2017

/ By / New Delhi

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A 12-year-old Indian origin girl from California in the United States of America (US) has won the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington. This isn’t the first time that an Indian-American has won the championship.

Can you spell the word ‘marocain’ correctly if asked for?

Well, Ananya Vinay , a 12-year-old from Fresno did and won the Spelling Bee this year. Vinay defeated another Indian origin kid, Rohan Rajeev, 14, from Oklahoma.

They both competed over words like cheiropompholyx, durchkomponiert and tchefuncte when ultimately Rajeev misspelled the word marram and Ananya got two words right to win.

“It was just fun to see how far it would go,” the winner said after her victory.

Her father Vinay Sreekumar shared that she had a “deep passion for reading”.

Vinay who received the USD 40,000 prize money, said she would split it with her seven-year-old brother and put her share in an account for her college education.

More than 11 million youngsters aged between six and 15 from all 50 US states, US territories such as Puerto Rico and Guam and countries such as Japan and Jamaica had entered the competition but ultimately only 291 spellers were selected. The spellers are among the top 0.000026 pc of the students who initially participate in the spelling bees held in classrooms, schools and local sponsored events.

Of all the competitors Vinay won the much sought after title, whose previous twelve winner too have been Indian-Americans.

The 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee was won by two boys of Indian origin – Nihar Janga, 11, from Texas, and Jairam Hathwar, 13, from New York.

In 2015, Gokul Venkatachalam, then 14 years old and Vanya Shivashankar, then 13, won the contest. Vanya’s older sister Kavya won it in 2009.

Other Indian origin winners have been: Ansun Sujoe and Sriram Hathwar (2014), Arvind Mahankali (2013), Snigdha Nandipati  (2012), Sukanya Roy (2011) and Anamika Veeramani (2010).

Apart from the spelling bee, Indian- American children have also been winning the National Geographic Bee, proving their knowledge of the world’s geography. It has, in fact, been reported that 2005 onwards, the winning rate of Indian-origin children in these two competitions has been well over 80 pc.

This year the Scripps National Spelling Bee completed its 90th year. It has been the country’s largest and longest-running educational program. In 1925, 11-year-old Frank Neuhauser correctly spelled gladiolus to become the first national champion.


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