Two Indian-Americans Win Spelling Bee, Again!

Winning the Scripps National Spelling Bee has become more of a tradition for Indian-American kids in the US. In the last 8 years from 2008 till 2015, Indians have been at the forefront of the competition. This year’s Spelling Bee also has two co-champions, like 2014, and both of Indian descent – Gokul Venkatachalam and Vanya Shivashankar. They spelt ‘Nunatak’ and ‘Scherenschnitte’ respectively to become the winners after 10-round showdown.

Gokul Venkatachalam is from Chesterfield, Missouri, and Vanya Shivashankar from Olathe, Kansas. While Gokul participated in the contest last year and finished third, Vanya becomes the first to win the title being a sibling of a past champion. Vanya’s sister Kavya won Spelling Bee in 2009.

The Huffingtonpost reported Gokul saying, “Me and Vanya were going to be the champions” when asked about his thoughts on getting that final word to spell.

According to the official Spelling Bee website, both the winners will get:

  • Prize money of $30,000 from Scripps
  • Scripps National Spelling Bee engraved trophy
  • $5,000 cash prize from Words With Friends
  • $2,500 U.S. Savings and complete reference library from Merriam-Webster and $1,100 of reference works including the Britannica Global Edition, 1768 Encyclopædia Britannica Replica Set Deluxe Edition, and 3-year membership to Britannica Online Premium from Encyclopedia Britinnica

Since Nupur Lala won the title in 1999, Scripps National Spelling Bee, an annual spelling bee held in the United States, has witnessed 13 Indian-Americans win the title. And the last 8 years have produced only Indian winners. This is despite of the fact that Indians make less than 1% of the US population.

Psychology Today had published an article in 2013 explaining why Indian-Americans dominate the scene at the National Spelling Bee.

Similar to this year’s result, 2014 also had two co-champions – Ansun Sujoe won by spelling ‘feuilleton’ and Sriram J. Hathwar spelt ‘Stichomythia’. President Obama stump by spelling bee champs, invited them to his Oval Office to congratulate them.

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