Twelve-year-old Ananya Vinay wins the Scripps National Spelling Bee.


Vinay, a Fresno, California, native, showed off her confidence the entire way through the finals rounds of the famed competition, only showing emotion via a huge smile when confetti rained down on her. She beat out top competitor Rohan Rajeev, 14, on Thursday to win the 90th Scripps Bee. Vinay will take home more than $40,000 in cash and prizes.

When told by a Scripps representative that she’d have to give a speech the following day, Vinay responded with confidence that she’d already written her speech before arriving for the competition. “In the last few weeks,” she admitted, “just to motivate me to study more.”

Vinay never seemed baffled by any of the words she was given, and often used far less of her two-minute allotted time to spell the word. She would occasionally ask for the part of speech or language or origin of the word, but often skipped that step to answer. “I knew them all,” she said.

Her winning words came after he opponent misspelled “marram,” a Scandinavian-derived word meaning beach grass. She spelled “marocain,” a type of dress fabric, to take home the win.

The 90th bee was the first since 2013 that had only one sole winner, with the middle years ending in ties. This year, Scripps added a tie breaker option, though it did not come to that between Vinay and Rajeev. They battled it out for 21 of the allotted 25 rounds before Rajeev’s flub.

This was Vinay’s second attempt at the bee, after making the top 50 last year but misspelling “multivalent” on stage. “She panicked. It was not a hard word,” said her father Vinay Sreekumar. “I think she leanred from that and she consciously worked on it, how you shouldn’t panic, just focus on the word.”

Vinay is the 13th consecutive Indian-American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and the 18th of the past 22 winners with Indian heritage.

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