Indian-American kids continue winning run at US Spelling Bee

Saul Bowman
June 2, 2018

Karthik Nemmani, 14, won the 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee Thursday night.

Third place contestant, Abhijay Kodali, is also from Texas. "It was a dream come true".

A missing l spelled the end for Riverside County spelling bee champion Aisha Randhawa of Corona at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Thursday, May 31.

It also now has the distinction of being the word that cost a local boy a shot at being the 91st Scripps National Spelling Bee champion.

Another Indian-American, Atman Balakrishnan, the 12-year-old son of 1985 champion Balu Natarajan, did not advance to the finals. His winning word was "koinonia", which means Christian fellowship or communion.

In 1985, Balu Natarajan became the first Indian-origin child to win the Spelling Bee and 17 others have followed him.

The victor will receive $40,000, a trophy from the Scripps Bee, $25,000 cash prize, a complete reference library from Merriam-Webster, trips to NY and Hollywood for a media tour and a pizza party for their school. In addition to the trophy, he gets more than $40,000 in cash and prizes. The report found "beautiful" was the most-searched word for 11 different states, including Utah.


Atman Balakrishnan was back at it Thursday morning after learning the previous day that he had not qualified for the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Maryland.

After her defeat, she was swarmed by dozens of current and former spellers who wished her well, smiling throughout. Saagar passed both onstage rounds he participated in, correctly spelling the words "barotropic" and "peacemonger".

Karthik, for his part, took no pleasure in vanquishing a familiar foe.

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").

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

The finals began with 41 spellers, and the number slowly dwindled over five rounds, but there was never a mass exodus from the stage.

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