OXON HILL, Md. (WJZ) — It was a war of words, but in a good way. The finals of the National Spelling Bee just ended in Maryland. The title was won on the word “knaidel,” which is a type of dumpling.

Thirteen-year-old Arvind Mahankali from New York is the champion and takes home $30,000 in cash and prizes.

Mary Bubala now has more on what the contestants went through, and how new rules changed the competition.

Some of the nation’s brightest kids, vying for the coveted title of U.S. Spelling Champion.

It’s the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Prince George’s County.

Nearly 300 contestants came from all 50 states, several U.S. territories and eight countries, including the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana, China and Japan.

The winner gets a trophy, a $30,000 cash prize and maybe even a picture with the president.

“Overall, I think I’ve learned our 1,000–5,000 words,” a contestant said.

This year, a new rule added to the challenge.

To advance to the semifinals and finals, competitors had to know not just how to spell a word, but also what it means, which meant more studying.

“But the vocab came along and I thought, ‘This is going to be harder than I thought,'” said Justin Hamilton.

“That just kind of might have overwhelmed me a little bit. It was definitely, it made things a lot harder,” said Abirami Ratnakumar.

After two computer-based tests and two preliminary rounds, 42 contestants went to the semifinals.

No more than 12 could advance to the finals.

The youngest in the competition was an 8-year-old from Louisville. Last year, one contestant was just 6-years-old.


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