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Wildcard contestant wins National Spelling Bee with ‘koinonia’

by Leigh Jones
Posted 6/01/18, 08:59 am

The Scripps National Spelling Bee’s new wildcard system paid off for Thursday’s winner, 14-year-old Karthik Nemmani of McKinney, Texas. Nemmani was one of 515 participants who came to the prestigious competition through the RSVBee system, designed to give spellers from especially competitive regions a better chance to participate. Nemmani beat out 12-year-old Naysa Modi from Frisco, Texas, who bested him in their county-level meet. “I didn’t really think I’d be able to do it,” the soft-spoken winner said. “I had confidence that I could do it, but I honestly didn’t realistically think it could happen.” Modi, in her fourth appearance at the national contest, was favored to win. But she misspelled “Bewusstseinslage,” German for a state of consciousness or a feeling devoid of sensory components. Nemmani correctly spelled “koinonia,” a Greek word meaning Christian fellowship, for the win. The top three finalists in this year’s competition all came from the Dallas area, one of the most competitive regions in the country. Nemmani’s family moved to McKinney so he could attend a school that participates in the Scripps program. He won his first spelling bee when he was just 4 years old.


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Leigh Jones

Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on education for WORLD Magazine and WORLD Digital.

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