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Meet Arvind, The 13-Year-Old Spelling Bee Champion

Arvind Mahankali, a Queens native, has won the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee, after correctly spelling his final word, "knaidel."

Posted on May 30, 2013, at 10:59 p.m. ET

Arvind Mahankali spells his word during the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, May 30, 2013.
Cliff Owen / AP

Arvind Mahankali spells his word during the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, May 30, 2013.

Arvind Mahankali takes home a $30,000 prize, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond from Merriam-Webster, $2,000 worth of reference works from Encyclopedia Britannica, and a huge trophy. Plus the respect of spelling enthusiasts everywhere. Tonight's 11 finalists advanced from 281 competitors based on a combination of onstage performance and computerized spelling and vocabulary tests. For the first time, competitors in the preliminary rounds had to know the definitions of words they spelled.

Arvind Mahankali and Pranav Sivakumar, 13, after learning that they will advance to the semifinal round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, in Oxon Hill, Md., Wednesday, May 29, 2013.
Cliff Owen / AP

Arvind Mahankali and Pranav Sivakumar, 13, after learning that they will advance to the semifinal round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, in Oxon Hill, Md., Wednesday, May 29, 2013.

A dedicated speller, Arvind Mahankali finished in third place the past two years and in ninth place in 2010.

Arvind correctly spells crapaud, finally advancing past his third-place finishes the last two years at the @ScrippsBee. #SpellingBee

Dave Boucher

@Dave_Boucher1

Arvind correctly spells crapaud, finally advancing past his third-place finishes the last two years at the @ScrippsBee. #SpellingBee

Arvind Mahankali thinks during the championship round at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, May 30, 2013 in National Harbor, Maryland.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / Getty Images

Arvind Mahankali thinks during the championship round at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, May 30, 2013 in National Harbor, Maryland.

After second-place finisher Pranav Sivakumar incorrectly spelled "cyanophycean", a type of blue-green alga, Mahankali had to spell two words correctly. He successfully spelled "tokonoma," which is a Japanese word meaning a niche in a house, before spelling "knaidel," which is a German word for a dumpling. In the past, Mahankali has struggled with German words.

In 2011, Mahankali incorrectly spelled the word "jugendstil" during the finals.

Arvind Mahankali, when he was 11 years old, reacts after he spells a word in the semifinals of the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
LARRY DOWNING / Reuters

Arvind Mahankali, when he was 11 years old, reacts after he spells a word in the semifinals of the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Arvind: "A German curse has turned into a German blessing." #spellingbee #champion

NationalSpellingBee

@ScrippsBee

Arvind: "A German curse has turned into a German blessing." #spellingbee #champion

Confetti makes it official! Arvind is the #spellingbee champion! http://t.co/VuiVemIMY5

NationalSpellingBee

@ScrippsBee

Confetti makes it official! Arvind is the #spellingbee champion! http://t.co/VuiVemIMY5