National Spelling Bee winner describes ‘really amazing’ win

Courtesy: Scripps National Spelling Bee

(ABC News) — The California sixth-grader who won the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling the word “marocain” said she was not nervous because she knew as soon as she heard the word that she would win.

“I was thinking I knew it and I knew that I was going to win,” Ananya Vinay, 12, said today on “Good Morning America” when asked what was going through her mind as she faced off in the final against just one other competitor.

She added, “I just dealt with my word, asked all my pieces and figured it out.”

Ananya of Fresno, California, won the trophy and $40,000 cash prize after a lengthy duel with runner-up Rohan Rajeev. She called the win “really amazing.”

“But I’m kind of tired at the same time,” Ananya added.

Rohan, an eighth-grade student, missed the word “marram,” a Scandinavian-derived word for beach grass.

Ananya’s winning word, marocain, is a French word for a dress fabric of ribbed crepe, made of silk or wool or both.


Ananya celebrated on stage after her victory with her parents and brother, with whom she said she plans to share some of her cash winnings. She also plans to put some of the money in an account for college.

The middle school student said she has spent the past year studying “a couple of hours” each day for the bee.

Ananya attributed her spelling prowess to a love of reading.

“I just had a love of reading when I was little and then eventually that became a love of words and then competing in spelling bees,” she said.

The bee tested participants’ knowledge of Webster’s Unabridged dictionary.

After three consecutive years of ties, the bee this year had a sole champion. It had added a tiebreaker test, but it did not come into play.

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