A 14-year-old boy has won an annual spelling competition after successfully spelling the word “psammophile”.
Dev Shah from Largo, Florida became the champion of Scripps National Spelling Bee for 2023 – winning $50,000 (£39,900) in cash.
Before being declared the winner, Mr Shah asked for the word to be used in a sentence – something he described as a stalling tactic.
When asked to spell “psammophile” – an organism that thrives in sandy soils – Mr Shah asked: “Psammo meaning sand, Greek? Phile, meaning love, Greek?”
After he successfully completed the word, the champion soaked up the moment as confetti rained onto the stage.
“I would say I was confident on the outside but inside I was nervous, especially for my winning word – well, like, before. Not during,” he said.
Coming in second place was 14-year-old runner-up Charlotte Walsh, who gave Mr Shah a hug after his win.
“I’m so happy for him. I’ve known Dev for many years and I know how much work he’s put into this and I’m so, so glad he won.”
Mr Shah is now the 22nd champion in the past 24 years from a South Asian background.
His father, Deval, spoke of his son’s success and said his son showed an incredible recall of words starting at age three and he spent many years participating in academic competitions.
Mr Shah tied for 51st place in the 2019 edition of the spelling bee and tied for 76th place in 2021 – he was among 11 contestants who made it to the finals of 2023’s event after beating a field of 220 other competitors.
The bee began in 1925 and is open to students through the eighth grade.
There were 229 kids onstage as it began – and each was a champion many times over, considering that 11 million participated at the school level.