Tara Singh, making her fifth and final appearance in the bee, will go to the prime-time finals for the first time.

To even get to that point, the finalists had to survive almost five hours of onstage spelling that started Thursday morning. The 516 competitors was the largest field that the contest has ever seen.

Nemmani's loss to Modi at the county level would normally have disqualified him for the national bee but he took advantage of a new program called RSVBee, which allows spellers to pay to compete in the national bee.

The 16 finalists ranged in age from 11 to 14 and included nine girls and seven boys.


The spellers come from all over the United States, plus one from Canada. Contrast that to Nemmani's victory that was reported with regular headlines, such as this one in CNN: "Texas teen wins National Spelling Bee".

In the final round, 12-year-old runner-up Naysa Modi made a mistake that is all too common for us all: she left the second "s" out of "Bewusstseinslage". "That's too much pressure".

Fourteen-year-old Karthik Nemmani of McKinney, Texas was the victor of the ultimate resume builder for a teenaged student - along with $40,000 cash-money, a trophy, a $2,500 savings bond, and encyclopedias (they still make encyclopedias?).

Competitors in the Scripps National Spelling Bee often struggle to contain their emotions as they react to obscure, complicated or tricked-up words that they may have never heard before.


Anisha Rao, 12, from Dublin, Calif., spells her word incorrectly during Round 9 of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, May 31, 2018.

Kaplan is one of 16 students who have made the finals after at least 500 others were eliminated during the preliminaries. That included Naysa and Nemmani; 14-year-old Sravanth Malla of NY; 12-year-old Shruthika Padhy of New Jersey; and 12-year-old Aisha Randhawa of California.

Google Trends this week came out with a map that shows the top "how to spell" word searches for each state. She spelled it "pavillant", bringing an end to her three days of triumph at the Maryland event.


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