The word that won the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee was “knaidel.”
Arvind Mahankali correctly spelled that word, meaning “a small mass of leavened dough.”
A 13-year-old from Queens, N.Y., Mahankali was one of 11 spellers to reach the final. Those 11 finalists emerged from 281 contenders. A Scripps veteran, Mahankali finished tied for ninth in 2010, tied for third in 2011 and in third place in 2012, according to ESPN.
“The words were extremely hard and there were actually a lot of the words in the finals — especially the one that eliminated Grace Remmer — that I didn’t know,” a remarkably calm Mahankali told Samantha Ponder on the stage in National Harbor, Md.
According to the official website of the Spelling Bee, the student from Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School takes home a $30,000 cash prize along with the trophy he lifted above his head on the stage.
Pranav Sivakumar, a 13-year-old who attends Barrington Middle School in Illinois, finished in second place. He was eliminated on the word “cyanophycean.”
Eliminated in consecutive years by words of German origin, Mahankali won the 2013 tournament with the German-derived “knaidel.”
“Well, I thought that the German curse has turned into a German blessing, if you know what I mean,” Mahankali told Ponder, cracking a well-deserved smile.