Arvind Mahankali (Speller 163) spelled “tokonoma” and “knaidel” correctly, smiling and nodding as he did. He is the winner of the Bee, and the first male champion since 2008. Knaidel is a German-derived Yiddish word. Arvind, who finished third in each of the past two Bees, has gotten out on German words. “The German curse has turned into a German blessing,” he said. Arvind said the words were extremely hard, and there were several he didn’t know — particularly “melocoton,” the word that eliminated fellow four-time competitor Grace Remmer (Speller 39).
The New York eighth grader studied six hours on Sundays, but 30 minutes other days of the week. He said he plans to stop studying spelling and begin studying physics. “It means that I am retiring on a good note,” he said.
Arvind hoisted the trophy over his head, with his parents and brother joining him on the stage. Before the finals, Arvind — who was the only competitor to return from last year’s finals — said he was feeling “pretty happy with my performance.” “Right now, it’s just fun,” he said.
For spelling his words correctly, he gets:
*From Scripps, a $30,000 cash prize and the Scripps National Spelling Bee engraved trophy
*From Merriam-Webster, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and a complete reference library
*From Encyclopedia Britannica, $2,000 of reference works including the Britannica Global Edition, 2013 Encyclopedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite DVD-ROM, and a three year membership to Britannica Online Premium
Arvind Mahankali : 2013 Spelling Bee Champion
Arvind loves math and science and hopes to one day pursue a career as a physicist. That explains his choice of role model and the person he would most like to meet (Albert Einstein), but doesn’t explain his favorite song (“I Believe I Can Fly”). A speaker of Telugu and Spanish, Arvind enjoys tennis, basketball and drama, and counts Novak Djokovic and Shaquille O’Neal among his favorite athletes. Arvind is making his fourth consecutive trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. He placed ninth in 2010 and finished in third place in both 2011 and 2012. Of all the words he’s seen and spelled, his favorite so far is sardoodledom.