On the 15th round of the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee finals, 14-year-old Largo, Florida’s Dev Shah, spelled “psammophile,” an organism that thrives on sandy soils.
He beat Arlington, Virginia, eighth-grader Charlotte Walsh, 14, who finished second despite misspelling “daviely,” a Scottish word for listlessly, in the 14th round.
Shah, a Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School student, spelled “bathypitotmeter” properly and quickly in the 14th round, but spelling bee rules required one more word to win.
Shah, who was named victor in a flurry of confetti and accompanied on stage by his parents and other relatives, receives $50,000 from E.W. Scripps Co (SSP.O), the bee’s sponsor, as well as other cash awards and reference, works from Encyclopedia Britannica and Merriam-Webster.
The competition uses Merriam-Webster Unabridged.
Dev, who enjoys reading, tennis, playing the cello, and solving math issues, tied for 51st place in the 2019 spelling bee and 76th in 2021.
He was one of 11 11-to-14-year-olds who got to the finals of this year’s event in National Harbor, Maryland, near Washington, D.C.
Ninety-four females, 134 boys, and two nonbinary spellers competed this year. One contender didn’t specify gender.
The Bee airs live. TV pundits highlight the thrill as candidates struggle to spell often-obscure words.
Last year’s winner, San Antonio’s 14-year-old Harini Logan, spelled 22 words correctly in 90 seconds. Since 1925, a spell-off had never determined the renowned championship.
After 27 years on ESPN, the 2022 show aired on Scripps-owned ION and Bounce. In addition, ION will broadcast the finals.