Dev Shah’s parents stepped onto the stage, clearly overcome with emotion. His mother expressed that he had dedicated four years of preparation for this moment.
Fourteen-year-old Dev Shah, an Indian-American eighth-grader from Florida, emerged victorious in the renowned 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee by accurately spelling the word “psammophile.” Shah’s correct spelling not only secured him the 95th national bee championship but also earned him the esteemed prize of USD 50,000 on Thursday. Overwhelmed by the momentous achievement, he confessed, “It feels surreal… I can still feel my legs shaking,” as he stood on stage at the competition held in National Harbor, Maryland.
Amid high expectations of a potential spell-off, a delighted Shah emerged as the victor by flawlessly spelling the term “psammophile,” as reported by The Washington Post. Shah displayed a confident smile as he promptly recognized the word’s origins.
Although he requested additional information as a precautionary measure, his subtle smile indicated his strong belief in having the correct spelling, as noted by The New York Times. Notably, this marked Shah’s third endeavor in the competition, following his participation in 2019 and 2021.
Filled with visible emotions, Shah’s parents joyfully bounded onto the stage, where his mother proudly declared that he had been diligently preparing for this momentous occasion for a remarkable span of four years.
Among a staggering number of 11 million participants from various parts of the world, only eleven students managed to secure a spot in the highly anticipated finals.
The intense competition kicked off on Tuesday with the preliminary rounds, followed by the gripping quarterfinals and semifinals held on Wednesday.
Charlotte Walsh, a talented 14-year-old from Arlington, Virginia, showcased her exceptional abilities but ultimately secured the honorable position of runner-up in the contest.
The Spelling Bee, a captivating event where elementary and middle school students showcase their impressive spelling skills by conquering words that often challenge even adults, has experienced a series of turbulent years. The esteemed National Spelling Bee, which initially commenced in 1925, encountered a significant setback in 2020 when it was compelled to cancel due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. This cancellation marked a notable disruption for what is renowned as the largest and most enduring educational program in the United States.
Fortunately, the Bee made a triumphant return in 2021, although not without undergoing a few modifications to adapt to the prevailing circumstances.