Texas teen wins Scripps National Spelling Bee with the word “koinonia”

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(CNN) — Karthik Nemmani from McKinney, Texas, has won the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

He correctly spelled the Greek word “koinonia” to win the competition. Koinonia means the intimate spiritual communion and participative sharing in a common religious commitment and spiritual community.

When asked at what point he knew he could spell the winning word, the 14-year-old said to laughter: “When I heard it.”

Spellers typically ask for clues such as the language of origin, alternate pronunciations and what part of speech the word is.

Twelve-year-old Naysa Modi, of Frisco, Texas, finished second after incorrectly spelling “Bewusstseinslage,” leaving out the second S.

Thursday’s finals went 18 rounds.

Nemmani wins $40,000 in cash, a trophy, encyclopedias and $2,500 savings bond.

There was a cute moment in one of the early rounds when 12-year-old Simone Kaplan of Davie, Florida, missed on the spelling of “carmanole.”

When she heard the correct spelling she said, in a soft voice, “OK, bye. And good luck to the rest of you.”

Atman Balakrishnan, the 12-year-old son of 1985 champion Balu Natarajan, didn’t advance to the finals.

This year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee featured the largest number of competitors — 516 — in its history. They ranged in age from 8 to 15.

Contestants came from every state and a handful of other countries. Enya Hubers of Burlington, Ontario, was among the last 16 spellers.

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