San Diego Teen Wins Spelling Bee

Eighth-grader Snigdha Nandipati has last word: guetapens
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2012 10:06 PM CDT
San Diego Teen Wins Spelling Bee
Snigdha Nandipati hugs her dad, Krishnarao Nandipati, brother Sujan Nandipati, after winning the National Spelling Bee.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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. (More Snigdha Nandipati stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.