Meet Snigdha Nandipati, winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee
Snigdha Nandipati won the 85th Scripps National Spelling Bee contest on May 31. She beat out eight other finalists in the nerve-wracking, brain-busting competition.
Snigdha Nandipati heard a few words she didn't know during the National Spelling Bee, but never when she stepped to the microphone.
Calm and collected throughout, the 14-year-old from San Diego spelled "guetapens," a French-derived word that means ambush, snare or trap, to win the 85th Scripps National Spelling Bee.
She beat out eight other finalists in the nerve-wracking, brain-busting competition.
After she spelled the word, she looked from side to side, as if unsure her accomplishment was real, and, oddly, she was not immediately announced as the winner.
Applause built slowly, and a few pieces of confetti trickled out before showering her. Then her 10-year-old brother ran on stage and embraced her, and she beamed.
"I knew it. I'd seen it before," Nandipati said of the winning word. "I just wanted to ask everything I could before I started spelling."
A coin collector and Sherlock Holmes fan, Nandipati aspires to become a physician or neurosurgeon. She also plays violin and is fluent in Telugu.
A semifinalist last year, Nandipati became the fifth consecutive Indian-American winner and 10th in the last 14 years, a run that began in 1999 when Nupur Lala won and was later featured in the documentary 'Spellbound.'
Wearing a white polo shirt with a gold necklace peeking out of the collar, the bespectacled, braces-wearing teen never showed much emotion while spelling, working her way meticulously through each word.
Only a few of the words given to other spellers were unfamiliar to her, she said.
Her brother and parents joined her onstage after the victory, along with her maternal grandparents, who traveled from Hyderabad, India, to watch her. At one point as she held the trophy aloft, her brother, Sujan, pushed the corners of her mouth apart to broaden her smile.
Her father, Krishnarao, said Snigdha first showed an interest in spelling as early as age 4. As she rode in the car, he would call out the words he saw on billboards and she would spell them.
In the run-up to the bee, Nandipanti studied 6 to 10 hours a day on weekdays and 10-12 hours on weekends %u2014 a regimen that she'll need to maintain to get through medical school, her father said.