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Prince of Spell-off: Indian American Bruhat Soma Wins Scripps National Spelling Bee in Thrilling Tie Breaker 

Prince of Spell-off: Indian American Bruhat Soma Wins Scripps National Spelling Bee in Thrilling Tie Breaker 

  • 12-year-old from St. Petersburg, Florida, spelled 29 correct words in just 90 seconds, edging past another Indian American Faizan Zaki of Dallas, Texas, who got 20 correct.

It was a winning streak for 12-year-old Bruhat Soma, as he clinched the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee trophy in Washington, D.C. today. With his calm composure and his command in spelling, the seventh grader from St. Petersburg, Florida, won the spell-off around, which was held just the second time in Bee history. 

Bruhat spelled 29 correct words in just 90 seconds, and won the round with the word “abseil,” defined as a descent in mountaineering by means of a rope looped over a projection above. He defeated Faizan Zaki of Dallas, Texas, who got 20 correct. Each participant had 90 seconds each two spell the most words correctly. 

Faizan Zaki, runner-up of the 99th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee. He lost to champion Bruhat Soma in the spell-off round. Top photo, champion Bruhat Soma, 12, from St. Petersburg, Florida, wins the trophy and more than $50,000 in cash.

“I always want to win. And this was, like, my main goal,” the Associated Press reported Bruhat as saying. “It didn’t matter if I won all those other bees. This is what I was aiming for. So I’m just really happy that I won this.”

As Bruhat was basking in the moment as he was “showered with confetti and handed the trophy, Faizan was in tears at the side of the stage, accepting hugs from other spellers,” the AP reported.

Bruhat and Faizan went into the spell-off round after Ananya Prassanna from Charlotte, North Carolina got eliminated after misspelling “murrina.” This was her last Bee. The 13-year-old seventh grader finished tied for 74th place in 2023 and for 49th place in 2022 and tied for 74th place in 2023.

The Bee final began with eight competitors, “the fewest since 2010,” according to the AP. Bruhat and Faizan were joined by Rishabh Saha, Shrey Parikh, Aditi Muthukumar, Ananya Prassanna, Y Liang and Kirsten Santos. Rishab from Merced, California, got out in the first round after faltering on the word “desmotrope.” As the rounds began to progress, the competition got tougher, and the field got smaller. 

Shrey Parikh, 12, from San Bernardino, California, the youngest finalist this year, ended his Bee journey with a Top 4 finish. The sixth grader got stumped on the word “kanin.”

Aditi Muthukumar from Denver, Colorado, was among the Top 5 finalists.

Another finalist who made an impression with her performance was Aditi Muthukumar from Denver, Colorado. Her Bee journey ended after she missed the word “Lillooet.” After tying for 74th place last year, the eight grader improved to a Top 5 finish this year. 

Bruhat is the third consecutive Indian American to win the Bee since 2021. Last year, 14-year-old Dev Shah of Florida was declared champion. The previous year, Texas teen Harini Logan emerged winner after a grueling 18 rounds and a historic spell-off. This was his last Bee. He previously competed in 2022, where he tied for 163rd place, and in and 2023, he was tied for 74th place. 

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Shrey Parikh, 12, from San Bernardino, California, was the youngest finalist this year.

Before the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Bruhat won the Words of Wisdom bee hosted by Scott Remer, a former speller, coach and study guide author, as reported by wtop-news.com. He also won the SpellPundit bee organized by that study guide company. And he won the first-ever online bee emceed by Dev Shah, last year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee champion.

Along with his passion for words and spelling, Bruhat. loves to play and watch basketball, and his favorite player is LeBron James. He also likes to play badminton and Ping-Pong, and has a passion for music. He plays the snare drum in his middle school band. 

Ananya Prassanna from Charlotte, North Carolina, reacts as she misspells the word “murrina.”

Faizan has previously competed in the Bee as well. In 2019, he tied for 370th place and last year he was tied for 21st place. He loves spelling and has been part of the spelling community since he was seven years old. When he isn’t spelling, he partakes in other hobbies such as speed-solving Rubik’s Cubes, playing his viola, learning new languages – he’s currently learning French – and simply hanging out with friends and family, including his twin sister, Zara. 

(Photos, Scripps National Spelling Bee/Facebook)

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