Word, dude. A San Diego eighth-grader has won the Scripps National Spelling Bee with the French-derived mind-bender "guetapens" in the 13th round of the hard-fought contest. Snigdha Nandipati, 14, beat out Stuti Mishra, 14, from Orlando, to scoop up a hefty trophy and $40,000 in cash and prizes. Arvind Mahankali, a 12-year-old from New York's Bayside Hills, won third place for the second year in a row, reports MSNBC. Snigdha, who wants to be a doctor, called her win a "miracle"—but hard work clearly played a role. She studied up to 12 hours on weekends and six hours on weekdays for several months. Her grandpop promised her a trip to India if she won.
Snigdha, who also likes coin collecting and Sherlock Holmes, said her love affair with words began on her daily rides to kindergarten when her dad asked her to spell words he would spot on billboards. "My favorite word to spell was `design' because it had the silent `g,'" the word nerd told AP. Her father, recognizing her knack, started entering Snigdha in spelling bees in third grade. As for the winning word that would throw just about everyone—and means an ambush or trap—she said: "I knew I'd seen it before." Snigdha named 1999's bee winner, Nupur Lala, the star of the documentary Spellbound, as a major inspiration. American students of Indian descent, like Snigdha and Nula, have won the national bee five times in a row, and in 10 of the last 14 years. (Read more Snigdha Nandipati stories.)