NEW YORK (TIP): Arvind V Mahankali, an eighth grader at Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School, won the nationally televised contest on May 30 night by spelling “knaidel,” a Yiddish term of German origin meaning “dumpling.” Straight-faced through most of the bee, Arvind broke into a wry grin when he heard the etymology of his last word; the previous two years, he had been knocked out by German words and finished third.
But he appeared confident this time, calmly spelling the last two words correctly to win. Arvind, who advanced through a local event sponsored by The Daily News, was briefly in a duel with the runner-up from Illinois, Pranav Sivakumar. But Pranav stumbled on “cyanophycean,” opening the door for Arvind.
First, he rattled off “tokonoma,” then “knaidel,” and soon he stood alone on the stage showered with confetti. Hoisting the trophy, Arvind said, “The German curse has turned into a German blessing.” Asked about the significance of the victory in his final year of eligibility, he said, “It means that I am retiring on a good note.” It also means he will get $30,000 cash and a $2,500 savings bond.