National Spelling Bee Champ Wins on a 'Layup'

'Psammophile' was his winning word
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 2, 2023 12:00 AM CDT
National Spelling Bee Champ Wins on a 'Layup'
Dev Shah, 14, from Largo, Fla., competes during the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals, Thursday, June 1, 2023, in Oxon Hill, Md.   (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Soft-spoken but brimming with confidence, Dev Shah asked precise questions about obscure Greek roots, rushed through his second-to-last word and rolled to the Scripps National Spelling Bee title Thursday night, the AP reports. Dev, a 14-year-old from Largo, Florida, had his spelling career interrupted by the pandemic, then didn't make it out of his regional bee last year. He got through his highly competitive regional this year for his third and final try at the national title, and he ended up holding the trophy over his head as confetti fell. His winning word was “psammophile,” a layup for a speller of his caliber.

“Psammo meaning sand, Greek?” he asked. “Phile, meaning love, Greek?” He soaked up the moment by asking for the word to be used in a sentence, something he described a day earlier as a stalling tactic. Then he put his hands over his face as he was declared the winner. Charlotte Walsh, a 14-year-old from Arlington, Virginia, was the runner-up. The winner’s haul is more than $50,000 in cash and prizes. When Charlotte returned to the stage later to congratulate Dev a second time, he reminded her that the runner-up gets $25,000. “Twenty-five thousand! What? I didn't know that,” Charlotte said.

(More Scripps National Spelling Bee stories.)

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