Dev Shah, a 14-year-old Indian American boy from Florida, won the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday night.
Spelling Bee champion: Shah, an eighth grader, claimed the U.S. National Spelling Bee champion title along with a Scripps Cup trophy and a check for $50,000 after he correctly spelled the word “psammophile,” a plant or animal that prospers in sandy areas, in the competition’s 15th round.
“It’s surreal,” Shah said after he was awarded the trophy. “My legs are still shaking.”
The competition: The 14-year-old beat 228 other competitors, including 10 finalists on Thursday night. Charlotte Walsh, an eighth grader from Virginia, came in second place after she misspelled the Scottish word “daviely.”
Background: Shah began competing in spelling competitions in the third grade. In previous national spelling bees, he placed 51st in 2019 and 76th in 2021.
Shah’s father, Deval, first noticed his son’s “remarkable memory” when he showed interest in an iPad geography program at 3 years old. Deval decided to channel Shah’s fascination with geography into spelling.
“It’s very emotional. We are very proud of him,” Shah’s mother said after rushing the stage to congratulate her son. “He put in almost 4 years [of work], and for the [past] year, he has been spending at least 10 hours here and there.”