OXON HILL, Md. (AP) -- After years of heartbreakingly close calls, Arvind Mahankali conquered his nemesis, German, to become the champion speller in the English language.
The 13-year-old from Bayside Hills, N.Y., correctly spelled "knaidel," a word for a small mass of leavened dough, to win the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday night. The bee tested brain power, composure and, for the first time, knowledge of vocabulary.
Arvind finished in third place in both 2011 and 2012, and both times, he was eliminated on German-derived words. This time, he got one German word in the finals, and the winning word was from German-derived Yiddish, eliciting groans and laughter from the crowd. He spelled both with ease.
"The German curse has turned into a German blessing," he said.
Arvind outlasted 11 other finalists, all but one of whom had been to the National Spelling Bee before, in nearly 2
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