Speed Reads

spelling is hard

Ananya Vinay wins the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee by spelling an obscure fabric

Ananya Vinay, a 12-year-old from Fresno, California, won the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday night, taking advantage of a misstep by runner-up Rohan Rajeev, 14, to correctly spell "marocain" — a type of dress fabric of ribbed crepe, usually made of silk or wool.

"It's like a dream come true," Vinay said, after barely cracking a smile in the tournament. "I'm so happy right now." This was the first national spelling bee that had only one winner since 2013, and she and Rajeev went 21 rounds before he messed up "marram," a kind of beach grass, derived from a Scandinavian language; after 25 rounds, they would have faced a new tiebreaker test. Vinay is also the 13th straight Indian-American to win the Scripps spelling bee; Indian-Americans, who often hone their skills in special spelling competitions, have now won 18 of the past 22 national bees, starting with Nupur Lala in 1999, immortalized in the documentary Spellbound.

Vinay will take home $40,000 in cash and prizes, along with bragging rights. You can read Jeva Lange's history of the Scripps spelling bees at The Week, and why she loves them even though she's a lousy speller.