Dev Shah is the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee winner.
The 14-year-old spelled the word "psammophile" correctly to win the competition and will take home the prize of $50,000 and the Scripps National Spelling Bee trophy.
Psammophile, which is an organism that thrives in sandy areas, was an appropriate word for the new Bee champion, whose hometown is the coastal community of Largo, Florida.
This year's competition began with 229 spellers. By Wednesday night, following the semifinals, 11 spellers were left.
During the finals Thursday night, two spellers were eliminated in the first round, misspelling their words. This included Sarah Fernandes of Omaha, Nebraska, and Pranav Anandh from Morton, Pennsylvania.
The second round was a word meaning round. Tarini Nandakumar from Texas was eliminated, leaving eight spellers in the competition.
In the third round, another spelling round, Arth Dalsania from California was eliminated.
Seven spellers continued on to round four. Dhruv Subramanian and Vikrant Chintanaboina, both from California, and Aryan Khedkar from Michigan were also eliminated.
With four spellers left, Shradha Rachamreddy from California and Surya Kapu from Utah were eliminated in round five. Kapu, who was in the finals last year, received a standing ovation from the crowd. Kapu and Rachamreddy tied for third.
Two spellers remained, Dev and Charlotte Walsh, of Virginia. In the first round, with just two spellers remaining, Dev spelled his word correctly, while Walsh spelled her word incorrectly.
After another correct spelling, Dev was able to take the trophy in the final year he could qualify to compete.
"It's kind of a dream come true, but I can't tell if I'm dreaming," he said.
Dev previously competed in the Bee in 2019 and 2021, tying for 51st place and 76th place respectively.
He says he practiced spelling the words he missed in previous years and spent more time studying the roots of words ahead of this year’s competition.
"This last month, I kind of made a lot of sacrifices, like, if there were field trips," Dev said. "But I knew it wouldn't be worth it, you know?"
The middle schooler started competing in spelling bees in second grade, but he says he started seriously competing in the summer of fifth grade.
"I read, I solve math problems, I play tennis, I play the cello, and I like to hang out with my friends," Dev told Scripps News of activities he enjoys outside of spelling.
Shortly after his win, Dev shared what he's looking forward to.
"Sleeping — because there have been a lot of sleepless nights recently," Dev said. ""It's soaked in a little bit. I'm just really happy and I'm just thinking about what's next. I know I always say focus on the next step, but I guess now I'm excited to see what's next."
Trending stories at Scrippsnews.com