What: The 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Who: Karthik Nemmani, a fourteen-year-old from McKinney.

Why It’s So Great: On Thursday night, a Texan took home the championship title from the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Karthick Nemmani, an eighth grader at Scoggins Middle School, knew he had it in the bag as soon as he heard his last word, “koinonia”, which means “intimate spiritual communion and participative sharing in a common religious commitment and spiritual community.” Nemmani’s first place win comes with more than a first place trophy: He also gets a $40,000 cash prize, a Merriam-Webster complete reference library, a $2,500 savings bond, and a trip to New York for an appearance on “LIVE with Kelly.”

Nemmani isn’t the only North Texan to place in this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee. Naysa Modi from Frisco came in second place and Abhijay Kodali from Flower Mound tied for third place with Jashun Paluru of Indiana, beating more than 500 other spellers from around the country. With the highest number of spellers since the competition began in 1925, the competitors tackled words such as “pareidolia,” “miarolitic” “ankyloglossia,” “haecceitas,” and “Mnemosyne.” 

Modi and Kodali made it to the national bee as the two top participants in the Golden Chick Dallas Regional Spelling Bee in March, where they actually beat Nemmani. He was able to participate in this year’s national spelling bee through a new program called RSVBee, which opens up the national spelling bee to participants who hadn’t won a regional or state sponsorship. 

“I might just sound biased here, but even in tough regions like Dallas and San Francisco, a lot of kids have a lot of potential, but they aren’t able to win their bees or get qualified,” Nemmani told the Dallas Morning News. His national win is proof that the new program is already changing the game.