A 7th Grader’s Electric Tiebreaking Performance Earns Spelling Bee Championship


It was only the second spell-off in the history of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and Bruhat Soma rattled off a head-spinning 29 correctly spelled words in 90 seconds, including heautophany, nachschläge and puszta.

Bruhat’s spell-off sprint on Thursday night won him the competition’s trophy, the Scripps Cup, and a grand prize of $50,000. He far surpassed his competitor, Faizan Zaki, a sixth grader from Dallas who correctly spelled 20 words, and also the bee’s previous spell-off record of 22 correct words in 2022, according to Bee officials.

After breezing through the stunning victory, the 12-year-old from Tampa, Fla., stood in shock as confetti fell to the stage floor around him.

“It’s been my goal for the past year to win,” the seventh-grader said. “I can’t describe it. I’m so shaky.”

Bruhat had been on a mission to hold the Scripps Cup above his head. He was eliminated last year in the first round of the quarterfinals, tying for 74th place. “I was pretty disappointed by my performance, and I knew I had to work harder,” he said in a recorded interview that aired during the show.

He also competed in 2022, when he tied for 163rd place.

Bruhat’s first word of the night was habitude, which means one’s “usual disposition or mode of behavior or procedure.” He steadily conquered words like Okvik, an Alaskan geographical name, and hoofddorp, a Dutch word, as the competition progressed in intensity and difficulty. He remained poised onstage, rarely seeming nervous and often thinking through the words by mock-typing out the letters in the air.

After his win, Bruhat was joined onstage by his parents and two siblings, who expressed pride and elation at his achievement.

In a recorded interview aired during the show, Bruhat — who is tall for his age — said that he also enjoys basketball. His favorite player is LeBron James, according to his bio on the Scripps National Spelling Bee website. He also enjoys reading, ping-pong and badminton, and he plays the snare drum in his middle school band.

While competing, his forehead was marked with a vermilion tika, a Hindu symbol of power and purity. His parents said that Bruhat memorized about 80 percent of the sacred Hindu texts, the Bhagavad Gita.

Emily Schmall, Maggie Astor and Emmett Lindner contributed reporting.

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here