Indian-origin boy, 12, wins National Spelling Bee title with 29 correct words

Bruhat Soma, a 12-year-old Indian-American boy, won the Scripps National Spelling Bee contest as he correctly spelt 29 of the 30 words in 90 seconds in a nail-biting finish.
Indian-origin boy, 12, wins National Spelling Bee title with 29 correct words
Anjali Raj / Jaano Junction

Bruhat Soma, a 12-year-old Indian-American student from Florida, scripted history on Thursday (local time) as he won the Scripps National Spelling Bee after he spelt 29 words correctly in 90 seconds.

The boy won the contest and got USD 50,000 (approx Rs 41.64 lakh) in cash and other prizes. The contest saw a nail-biting finish as Soma correctly spelt 29 words, including those that were complex and tricky, in 90 seconds, comfortably beating one Faizan Zaki, who spelt 20 words in the lightning round.

His championship word was "abseil", which is defined as "descent in mountaineering by means of a rope looped over a projection above".

Soma went first in the tiebreaker and got through 30 words, of which he answered 29 correctly. On the other hand, Zaki attempted 25 words but incorrectly spelt four of them.

"Bruhat Soma rules the word! The Champion of the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee! The boy with the unbelievable memory doesn't miss a word all week and takes home the Scripps Cup!" the organisers said.

"Bruhat Soma correctly spelt 29 out of 30 words and attempted to earn the coveted champion title and beat the standing spell-off record set by Harini Logan in 2022. Logan spelt 22 out of 26 words correctly during the competition’s first-ever spell-off," they added.

"As the competition progressed, it was clear that Faizan and Bruhat -- our final two spellers -- showed up tonight ready to take down the dictionary,” said Corrie Loeffler, executive director of the Bee.

"Together, they were a powerful match. Bee officials activated the spell-off in the competition’s closing minutes, giving these stellar spellers an opportunity to show even more of what they can do," Loeffler said.

The two final spellers each had 90 seconds to spell as many words as they could from a predetermined list of words while the other speller was sequestered. Zaki of Allen in Texas, received USD 25,000 (approx Rs 20.82 lakh).

Adam Symson, president and CEO of The EW Scripps Company, presented Sona with the trophy and said he was impressed with "his display of knowledge and composure at just 12 years old".

Soma participated in the Scripps National Spelling Bee for the third time. He had previously won the Words of Wisdom Bee and SpellPundit Bee contests. His father Srinivas Soma is originally from Nalgonda in Telangana.

On the other hand, Shrey Parikh of Rancho Cucamonga, California, and Ananya Prassanna of Apex, North Carolina, tied for third place in the competition and received USD 12,500 each.

Coached by 16-year-old former speller Sam Evans, Soma previously competed in 2022 (tied for 163rd place) and 2023 (tied for 74th place).

Indian-American Dev Shah won last year's Bee by correctly spelling "psammophile". Harini Logan won the championship in 2022.

The 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee had eight finalists, five of whom were Indian-Americans: Rishabh Saha, 14 and Shrey Parikh, 12, from California; Aditi Muthukumar, 13, from Colorado; and Ananya Rao Prassanna, 13, from North Carolina.

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Indian-origin boy, 12, wins National Spelling Bee title with 29 correct words

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is the nation's largest and longest-running educational programme, having been launched in 1925. It is a high-profile, high-pressure endurance test as much as a nerd spelling match and spellers spend months preparing for it.

Source: ANI

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