While Indian-American kids won this year’s title for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, a section took to social media to protest their outrage on “non-Americans” winning the coveted title, yet again.
Among the past 17 winners of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, 13 are from Asian-Indian descent. And despite the hate, Indian-Americans Gokul Venkatachalam, 14, of Chesterfield, Missouri and Vanya Shivashankar, 13, of Olathe, Kansas have emerged as winners at this year’s spelling bee. The winning word for Shivashankar was “scherenschnitte,” and by nailing “nunatak,” Venkatachalam guaranteed his victory.
They battled against 285 spellers, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor, Maryland, to win the trophy. It was Shivashankar’s fifth year and Venkatachalam’s fourth year at the Spelling Bee. These eighth graders will receive $35,000, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond, a complete reference library and other prizes, along with an engraved trophy.
Shivashankar dedicated her win to her grandmother, who died in 2013.
“All she really wanted was her grandkids to do so well, and I hope I make her happy with this,” she said.
In regards to Gokul’s victory, he said, “I saw the past two champions and I wanted to do the same and I wanted to get the same. I just put in the work.”
Their victory is part of history. It’s the second year in a row that the Spelling Bee has been tied. It’s also the first time for siblings to have won the title; Shivashankar’s sister, Kavya Shivashankar is a 2009 Spelling Bee champion. And the duo’s victory also makes this the eighth year in a row that Indian-Americans have won the National Spelling Bee championship.
Though there were 285 spellers in the initial round, it was narrowed down to 49 for the semifinals, then again to 21, and finally, only 10 made it to the finals. The contestants ranged from the ages of nine to 15.
We are proud of Venkatachalam and Shivashankar! Enjoy your win, because you’ve earned it.
Among the past 17 winners of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, 13 are from Asian-Indian descent.