Karthik Nemmani, 14, won the 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee Thursday night. State spelling bees are sponsored by news organizations, a tradition that began with the first spelling bee in 1925, sponsored by the Courier Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, to promote literacy.
Third place contestant, Abhijay Kodali, is also from Texas. But he didn't pretend to be infallible, saying there were about eight or nine words in the prime-time finals he didn't know - a rare admission for a champion.
Competitors in the Scripps National Spelling Bee often struggle to contain their emotions as they react to obscure, complicated or tricked-up words that they may have never heard before.
Karthik is the 14th consecutive Indian-American competition champion.
Oh, and the meaning of that winning word, koinonia?
The victor of the bee receives $40,000 and a trophy from the Scripps Bee, a $2,500 cash prize (and a complete reference library) from Merriam-Webster, trips to New York City and Hollywood as part of a media tour, and a pizza party for their school.
There were a total of 516 children who qualified for the nationals this year.
Preliminaries for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which took place May 29-30, consisted of a written test and two rounds of onstage oral spelling. This allowed for interested spellers who didn't compete in a regional bee to apply for a chance to partake in the contest. In the first round of ESPN-televised spelling Thursday night, almost half of the finalists misspelled their words, including several crowd favourites such as Tara Singh, a 13-year-old from Kentucky who was competing at her fifth and final national bee.
She said she struggled with the "ae" because that's not normally seen in German. "I wouldn't say I expected it".
Using the top searched "how to spell" words of each state, Google compiled a map that shows which words have given people the most pause in the US. And several had appeared at the national bee in previous years.
Karthik, for his part, took no pleasure in vanquishing a familiar foe. Gordy correctly spelled "cadre" in round two but misspelled "philistinism" in round three.
On Wednesday night, bee officials used test scores to determine that 41 spellers would move on to the finals, to compete under the glaring lights of prime-time television.