Queen of the Bee

Fourteen-year-old Anamika Veeramani wins the 83rd annual Scripps National Spelling Bee

Jun 07, 2010 | By Andrea Delbanco

 

Stromuhr. Most people don't know what the medical word means, or how to pronounce it. But Anamika Veeramani, a 14-year-old from North Royalton, Ohio, knew how to spell it. The challenging word won Anamika a trophy and more than $40,000 in cash and prizes at the 83rd annual Scripps National Spelling Bee on Friday. Three spellers tied for second place.

A total of 273 spellers took part in the three-day competition, held in Washington, D.C. Contestants ranged in age from 8 to 15. The final rounds aired on ABC on Friday night.

V-I-C-T-O-R-Y

Anamika tied for fifth place at the Scripps Bee in 2009 and was one of the favorites at the competition this year. Anamika sat through a tense commercial break before she got the chance to spell the winning word. She kept her cool, standing still with her hands behind her back, waiting to smile until the trophy was presented to her. "I usually have a poker face," says Anamika. But she admits the spelling was stressful, and winning was surreal. "It was just really nerve-wracking," she said. "The commercial breaks didn't really help."

"This has been her dream for a very, very long time," says Anamika's father, Alagaiya Veeramani. He says his daughter studied spelling for as much as 16 hours on some days. Now, having won the top spot at Scripps, Anamika can no longer spell competitively. "I've been doing spelling for such a long time," Anamika says. "It's kind of sad." She says she wants to spend more time golfing, dancing and writing.

A Winning Streak

Anamika is the third Indian-American champion in a row. Although Indian-Americans make up less than one percent of the population of the United States, they have an impressive winning streak at spelling bees. Indian-Americans have won the top spot at Scripps in eight of the last 12 years.

"All of the past champions inspire me," Anamika says. "They're all amazing people."