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Watch: Could you have spelt ‘koinonia’ correctly? Karthik Nemmani did, to win the US Spelling Bee

Inevitably, both finalists were of Indian origin.


It’s really no surprise anymore when the US National Spelling Bee is aced by a winner who’s of Indian origin. This time it was the turn of 14-year-old Karthik Nemmani of McKinney, Texas, who beat his final rival, 12-year-old Naysa Modi, by spelling “koinonia” correctly.

Among the words Nemmani had to spell correctly were “ankyloglossia”, “condottiere” and “paucispiral”. He was coached by Grace Walters, who is all of 16.

There were 16 finalists, aged between 11 and 14, nine of them being girls and seven, boys. Nemmani almost didn’t make it to the contest, as he had not won a regional Spelling Bee or got a sponsor. But participating in a programme named RSVBee enabled him to compete.

Before the final word, which won him the trophy, he had to spell “haecceitas”. “It was just an adrenaline rush,” he said. “It made me happy; it reminded me I had a job to do.”

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