WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Vanya Shivashankar spelled her way to a co-championship in the 2015 National Spelling Bee, sharing the title with Gokul Venkatachalam of Chesterfield, Mo. The two were flawless during the championship round, nearly exhausting the 25 words in the round and by rule will share the title.
Here are the words Vanya spelled correctly in the final round:
The bee hadn't ended in a tie for 52 years — until last year. Now it's happened for an unprecedented two years running. Why? There weren't enough words left on the competition's list for them to keep facing off until only one was left.
Vanya's final word was "scherenschnitte." After being informed he'd be the co-champion if he got the next word right, Gokul, who finished third last year, didn't even bother to ask the definition before spelling "nunatak."
The competition's announcers marveled at the finalists' cool demeanor as the bee stretched into its final moments.
"It maybe impossible to stump these two tonight," an ESPN announcer said.
And ultimately, it was.
The two ended up both taking home a gigantic trophy and $35,000 in cash prizes. and marked the eighth straight year that Indian Americans (or "desis" in South Asian parlance) won the contest.
The win also made Vanya the first sibling of a past champion to win the bee. Her sister, Kavya, won in 2009. Vanya previously competed in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2010, 2012 (tied for 10th place), 2013 (tied for 5th place) and 2014 (tied for 13th place). This was the last year that Vanya was eligible to compete in the bee. Vanya is an eighth grader at California Trail Middle School.
Vanya has many other interests besides spelling. She also plays tuba and piano, and she recently won the Mid-America Music Association award for Exceptional Pianist and Jazz Pianist. Additionally she won Lifetime's "Child Genius" quiz show earlier this year.