Indian-Origin Teen Dev Shah wins $50k in 2023 US Spelling Bee with 'Psammophile'

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Dallas, Jun 02, 2023, IANS

Arul Louis

In a remarkable display of dominance by Indian-origin participants, 14-year-old Dev Shah from Florida emerged victorious in the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee held in the United States. Shah claimed the championship title and a grand prize of $50,000 after successfully spelling the word "psammophile."

The intense finals took place on Thursday night at National Harbor, Maryland, where Shah showcased his exceptional spelling abilities by accurately spelling the term that refers to an organism thriving in sandy soil. Out of the 231 participants from across the nation, 10 finalists shared Indian heritage, highlighting their exceptional linguistic prowess.

After a grueling three-day competition, Shah advanced to the final round, competing against 14-year-old Charlotte Walsh from Arlington, Virginia. Before securing the award, Shah solidified his victory by correctly spelling the word "bathypitotmeter," which refers to a device used to measure water temperature and current.

Claiming a joint third place were Shradha Rachamreddy and Surya Kapu, both awarded a prize of $15,000. Shah, currently an eighth-grade student from Largo, Florida, demonstrated his remarkable spelling skills throughout the competition, accurately spelling challenging words like "schistorrhachis" and "aegagrus" over 15 rounds to secure his position at the top.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee not only evaluates participants' ability to memorize spellings but also their understanding of word origins, structures, and usage. Thousands of students from various regions in the United States and even from abroad participate in local and regional competitions, with the field narrowing down to the final 231 contestants.

Since Balu Natarajan claimed victory in 1985, Indian-origin children have consistently excelled in the competition, monopolizing the championship from 2008 to 2018. The Indian dominance was briefly interrupted in 2021 when a non-Indian participant emerged as the winner. However, Harini Logan reclaimed the Indian lead by securing the championship title last year.

Dev Shah's outstanding performance further solidifies the reputation of Indian-origin spellers as exceptional competitors in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. As the 22nd Indian-origin champion, he follows in the footsteps of his predecessors, showcasing their linguistic talent and passion for language. (Edited).

(Arul Louis can be contacted at [email protected] and followed at @arulouis)