Most people may not be familiar with the word guetapens, but 14-year-old Snigdha Nandipati will forever remember the French term for winning her the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee title in National Harbor, Md., on May 31.
The San Diego eighth grader clinched the spelling bee during the 13th round after spelling guetapens, which means ambush or trap, according to Reuters. “It’s a miracle!” she said after the win. Preparation may have played a helping hand; Nandipati studied 10 to 12 hours on weekends and six hours on weekdays, according to her grandparents, who flew in for the competition from India. Second place went to 14-year-old Stuti Mishra, an eighth grader from Orlando. Mishra misspelled schwarmerei, a German word for excessive enthusiasm.
This isn’t the first spelling-bee performance for Nandipati, who competed last year and landed in 27th place after misspelling kerystic (which means “of or pertaining to preaching”). According to the spelling bee’s official site, Nandipati’s hobbies include reading encyclopedias for fun, collecting coins, winning medals for her Science Olympiad team and playing violin. She is also fluent in Telugu.
When asked what she would do with her $30,000 in winnings, Nandipati said, “I don’t know, save it for college.” In addition to the cash, the West Coast native received a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and a $5,000 scholarship, according to Reuters. Nandipati was among nine finalists who were plucked from 278 contestants in the nationwide competition.