New Yorker Arvind Mahankali won the 2013 National Spelling Bee with “knaidel,” a Yiddish word for matzoh ball. The 13-year-old Queens boy had finished third two years in a row and ninth in 2010. An admirer of Albert Einstein, he plans a career in physics.
Since 1999, 11 of the 15 winners of the bee have been Americans of Indian descent, reports NPR. ”Indian-American spelling successes have also been fueled in recent years by the South Asian-only farm leagues that have popped up,” said Tovia Smith. “Those tournaments act as a kind of breeding ground, where many Indian versions of the “tiger mom” start their kids as young as 6 years old.”
The second and third place finishers also were Indo-American. Pranav Shivashankar, 13, of Olathe, Kan., was eliminated on “cyanophycean.” Sriram Hathwar, of Painted Post, N.Y., finished third after misspelling a Greek word, “ptyalagogue.’’ Amber Born, 14, of Marblehead, Mass., the crowd favorite, came in fourth.