It took a tiebreaking “spell-off,” but Texas eighth grader Harini Logan was crowned the new spelling bee champ Thursday night.
She spelled “moorhen” (a bird) correctly and 21 other words in the prestigious Scripps National Bee’s first-ever lightning round.
“This is just such a dream,” she said. “Wow! I’m just overwhelmed.”
Harini, of San Antonio, correctly spelled 22 words in the 90-second speed round, compared to 15 by fellow finalist Vikram Raju, of Colorado.
Harini beat 12 other finalists and took home the first-place prize of $50,000 in National Harbor, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.
Judges confirmed the correct words after the lightning round. It occurred after both finalists were stumped by words in the final stretch with just the two of them left.
Harini called the experience “surreal.” This is her fourth bee; she previously competed in 2018, 2019 and 2021. (It was not held in 2020 because of Covid-19).
Vikram, 12, could be back. He has competed in two other spelling bees and has another year of eligibility.
Asked by host LeVar Burton whether he would return, Vikram said: “Yes.”
Wilson Wong contributed.