By Francis Doku, National Habour, Maryland
A 12-year-old speller from Fresno, California, Ananya Vinay was last night declared champion of the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee, held at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Centre at National Habour Maryland, USA and presented by Kindle.
After many grueling rounds and both remaining contestants spelling their respective words correctly, Vinay earned the title in round 36 when she correctly spelled “marocain,” after Rohan Rajeev misspelled his word.
The winning word is defined as “a dress fabric that is made with a warp of silk or rayon and a filling of other yarns and is similar to but heavier than canton crepe.” When Rajeev missed his word, deep into the championship round, Vinay spelled her word correctly, which gave her the opportunity to spell the championship word, marocain.
This was Vinay’s second time participating in the National Finals having tied for 172nd place in 2016 edition. Rich Boehne, chairman, president and CEO of The E.W. Scripps Company, awarded Vinay the engraved championship trophy moments before ESPN signed off from its live broadcast of the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee.
“Ananya proved her depth of knowledge of root words and word origins to master round after round of some of the most challenging words in the English language,” said Boehne. “The entire week was an impressive showcase of talented students who have dedicated so much time and effort to this skill. They exude commitment and true grit. Scripps takes great pride in serving as steward of the nation’s largest and longest-running educational event.”
For her winning Vinay receives a $40,000 cash prize and the Scripps National Spelling Bee engraved trophy presented by Scripps, a Kindle e-reader from Kindle, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and a complete reference library from Merriam-Webster and a $400 of reference works including a 1768 Encyclopædia Britannica Replica Set Deluxe Edition and a three-year membership to Britannica Online Premium from Encyclopædia Britannica.
Rohan Rajeev of Edmond, Oklahoma, placed second in the competition and will receive $30,000 as his prize while Mira Dedhia of Western Springs, Illinois, who placed third in the competition will receive $20,000 as her prize.
The 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee brought together 291 participants from all over the United States of America and from six other countries namely the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.
Ghana was represented by the winner of the 2017 National Final of The Spelling Bee Ghana, Ms. Lily Tugbah. The JH 1 student of Solidarity International School, Ahsaiman who emerged winner at the 10th edition final of The Spelling Bee Ghana in February was the only contestant from Africa to take part in the 90th edition of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
“I am disappointed that I could not make it beyond the second round because I came here with the hope of winning the ultimate prize,” said Lily Tugbah. “However, coming to America has given me a life changing experience, I have made friends that I hope I can keep and share a lot with throughout my life. I am grateful to Young Educators Foundation for this opportunity.”
On her part, the Executive Director of YEF Mrs. Eugenia Tachie-Menson said they were “happy to have taken part in the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee although Lily could not win the ultimate prize.”
“We are very certain of the life changing experience this participation has given her. The Bee is not only about winning, but also about the experience it gives our young spellerbrities and we are very sure her experience will stay with her forever.”
She expressed her appreciation to all Ghanaians who supported Lily to win, the team at YEF who worked tirelessly to ensure that Lily would make it to the finals and also to all the sponsors who made the participation possible.
Lily Tugbah’s participation in the 90th edition of the Scripps National Spelling Bee was made possible by South African Airways (flight ticket sponsor), DSTV, ECOBANK, the United States Embassy in Accra and Indomie (title sponsor of The Spelling Bee).