After a spell-filled career, a 14-year old from Florida won the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday night.
Dev Shah won his first Scripps trophy after his third appearance on the national stage. Dev Shah had previously competed in the Scripps Trophy competitions of 2019 and 2021. He tied for 51st and 76th places, respectively.
Shah, a student at Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School, Largo, Florida won the trophy for correctly spelling “psammophile.” He received more than $50,000 cash and prizes.
The national bee of this year also has aegagrus schistorrhachis perioeci and bathypitotmeter under its belt.
The teenager is the 22nd South Asian champion in the last 24 years. According to The Associated Press, his father immigrated from India to the U.S. 29 years ago in order to earn a master’s of electrical engineering. Shah’s younger brother is a rising Yale junior.
The Associated Press reported that Shah’s father said that his son displayed “incredible memory” of words starting at age 3. He also noted that he had spent many years competing in academic competitions through the nonprofit North South Foundation.
Shah was unsure 15 months ago if he’d return to the competition despite his academic talents. He said that after finishing fourth at the regional bee last year in Orlando, “he didn’t know [if] he wanted to continue.”
Shah, who spent at least four months getting “back on course,” won the regional competition this year by correctly spelling “fustanella,” punching a ticket to the stage national in Washington D.C.
Shah was named the winner of this year’s National Bee, which was open to students from the 8th grade and up.
Charlotte Walsh, 14, from Arlington, Virginia was the runner up.
The words used in the Scripps National Spelling Bee are from Merriam Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. The national competition is open to all entries, with the exception of words that are archaic or outdated.
This report was contributed by The Associated Press.