Indian-American eighth-grader Dev Shah crowned 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion

Washington: Dev Shah, a 14-year-old eighth-grader from Florida, who correctly spelled the word “psammophile” has won the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee, a prestigious contest where children of Indian origin have ruled the roost.

Shah correctly spelled the word to win the 95th national bee and the USD 50,000 prize on Thursday.

“It’s surreal,” Shah said onstage after the confetti fell on his head and he lifted the trophy high above.

After much anticipation about a possible spell-off, a smiling Shah won by correctly spelling “psammophile,” a plant or animal that thrives in sandy areas, the Washington Post newspaper reported.

“Psammo meaning sand, Greek?” he asked. “Phile, meaning love, Greek?” Shah instantly identified the roots of his word, but asked for all the information just to be safe, while smiling slightly in a way that suggested he was pretty sure he had it, the New York Times newspaper reported.

This was Shah’s third attempt. His previous two attempts were in 2019 and 2021.

Shah’s parents hopped on stage, visibly emotional, and his mother said he’s been preparing for this for four years.

Eleven students made the finals after 11 million people entered spelling competitions throughout the world.

The preliminary rounds began Tuesday, while the quarterfinals and semifinals took place Wednesday.

Charlotte Walsh, a 14-year-old from Arlington, Virginia, was the runner-up.

The Spelling Bee, which features elementary and middle school students spelling words that would cause most adults to stumble, has had a tumultuous few years. The National Spelling Bee was launched in 1925.

Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, the competition was cancelled in 2020, a significant shake-up for what is billed as the US’ largest and longest-running educational programme.

The Bee returned in 2021 but with a few changes.