Indian Americans Vanya Shivashankar and Gokul Venkatachalam have won the 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday night.This is the second year in a row the Spelling Bee produced co-champions. Ansun Sujoe and Sriram Hathwar were co-champions last year.This is the eight consecutive year Indian American spellers emerged victorious.
The final word Shivashankar spelled was “scherenschmitte,” while Venkatachalam’s last word was “nunatak,” which he spat rapidly.
Shivashankar, 13, is an 8th grader at California Trail Middle School in Olathe, Kansas. The 14-year-old Venkatachalam, 14, is an 8th grader at Parkway West Middle School in his hometown of Chesterfield, Missouri.The duo went toe to toe, correctly spelling an impressive list of 22 words, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats.
The words Venkatachalam spelled correctly include “pyrrhuloxia,” “pipsissewa,” “paroemiology,” “mixtamal,” “sprachgefuhl,” “filicite,” “cypseline” and “scytale.” Words Shivashankar spelled correctly include “scherenschnitte,” “Bruxellois,” “scacchite,” “hippocrepiform,” “zimocca,” “myrmotherine,” “urgrund,” “tantieme” and “thamakau.”For Shivashankar, it was the second big trophy this year. In February, she had won Lifetime’s reality show Child Genius. Her big sister Kavya, the 2009 champion, was present to celebrate the victory.
The winners will each receive a trophy and $35,000, apart from $2,500 in US savings bonds, and other prizes.Venkatachalam’s parents Venkatachalam Krishnan and Sreepriya Vaidynathan immigrated to the United States from Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, India. They speak Tamil, which is also their son’s second language.
*Read about his aspirations to get a sneaker endorsement deal on GQ - here.