Fresno 12-year-old spells ‘marocain’ to win National Spelling Bee

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Ananya Vinay from Fresno, California, has won the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

"I just focused on my word and tried to spell it right," she said.

The 12-year-old spelled "marocain," which is a dress fabric that is made with a warp of silk or rayon and a filling of other yarns.

"It's a like a dream come true. I am so happy right now," she said.

She rocked side-to-side, without completing a smile that began and went away, until her dad rushed to hug her. As the rest of her family joined her, the new champ finally let her happiness show.

Ananya was crowned the winner of the 90th instance of the erudite tournament after she spelled 35 words correctly.

On Thursday evening, the bee was down to the final two contestants after nearly 12 hours of competition.

"It was interesting to go back-and-forth for so many rounds," she said.

Ananya and Rohan Rajeev, an eighth-grader from Edmond, Oklahoma, went head to head for almost 20 championship rounds spelling their words so assuredly.

After her win, Ananya went to congratulate Rohan, who had misspelled the word "marram" (a type of coarse perennial grass) after the two battled through the night.

Ananya is the first outright winner in a while. For each of the past three years, the bee ended in ties after the contestants successfully completed the competition's entire list of words.

Last year, Jairam Hathwar of New York spelled "Feldenkrais" (a method of exercise therapy) and Nihar Janga of Texas spelled "gesellschaft" (social relations held together by impersonal ties), giving them a joint title.

To end that scourge of ties, the spelling bee introduced a written "tiebreaker test" this year. If there is a tie at the end of the bee, the speller with the better score on the written test will be named the champ.

The winner receives a $40,000 grand prize and plenty of bragging rights, while second place gets a $30,000 reward.

This year's highlights

Earlier during bee week, the star of the event was 6-year-old Edith Fuller, who became the youngest contestant at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The precocious home-schooled student from Oklahoma correctly figured out "tapas" and "nyctinasty," but she failed to make the competition's finals.

As with any intense competition, the bee was full of rapidly swinging emotions. Erin Howard, a sixth-grader from Alabama, offered a plea to the judges before receiving her word.

"OK, you really have to give me a word I know right now. Really," she said.

She got "apparentement," or an alliance of French political parties formed during an election.

"I'm sorry, did you misunderstand my request?" she said.

No matter. She got the word right and advanced to the finals of the competition.

Think you can do better than these kids? Take our quiz and find out.