Indian-American teen Harini Logan won the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee in the competition’s first-ever lightning-round tiebreaker that saw her rattling off word after word in 90 seconds.
The 13-year-old eighth-grader from San Antonio, Texas, competed in the last fully in-person bee three years ago. A four-time bee participant, Harini received a trophy and a cheque for $50,000 for the win.
Harini beat 12-year-old Vikram Raju in the spell-off
a new format that tested contestants on how many words they could correctly spell within 90 seconds. While Harini correctly spelt 22 words in the historic spell-off, Vikram got only 15 right.
“Just so surreal, this is such a dream,” Harini said, as quoted by USA Today.
Harini nearly didn’t advance past the word meaning round on Thursday, after her answer for “pullulation” was rejected. However, the judges conferred and ruled that the answer she gave could be correct, since it could mean “to breed” or “to swarm.”
After that, she breezed into the finals against Vikram
They each spelled two words correctly. Then Scripps brought out the toughest words of the night.
Both misspelled. Then Vikram missed again and Harini got “sereh” right, putting her one word away from the title. The word was “drimys,” and she got it wrong.
Two more rounds, two more misspelled words by each, and Scripps brought out the podium and buzzer for the lightning round that all the finalists had practiced for in the mostly empty ballroom hours earlier.
Harini was faster and sharper throughout, and the judges’ final tally confirmed her victory.