Arvind V. Mahankali, a 13-year-old boy from Queens, was showered with confetti as he became the champion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee yesterday after correctly spelling “knaidel,” a Yiddish term meaning “dumpling.”
It was Mahankali’s fourth trip to the annual spelling bee, and his last because contestants must be under 14 years old. This time he earned $30,000 in prize money.
After Pranav Sivakumar misspelled “cyanophycean” in Round 15, Arvind correctly spelled “tokonoma” and “knaidel”, smiling and nodding as he did. His parents and brother joined him on stage as Arvind hoisted the trophy over his head.
The New Yorker spoke to a swarm of reporters, cameras and microphones. Twice in the past, Arvind finished in third place so his father called this moment a redemption.
“He always wanted to make New York proud.”
In two previous competitions, Arvind had been stumped by words of German origin. This time his winning word was a German-derived Yiddish one.
“The German curse has turned into a German blessing,” he said.
The eighth grader studied six hours on Sundays, but 30 minutes other days of the week. Now he intends to begin studying physics.
(Source and photo credit: Spellingbee.com)