Harini Logan, an eighth grader from San Antonio, Texas, won the 2022 edition of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, beating competitor Vikram Raju from Denver, Colorado, in an exhilarating, first-ever spell-off after a long-drawn intellectual slugfest.
The 14-year-old from Texas, a veteran at the Spelling Bee competitions, managed to spell more words than 230 other national level competitors, as well as 12 finalists, getting esoteric words such as charadriiform, ditalini, tauromachian, and sereh correct to head into the spell-off with Raju.
“It is my fourth time at the bee, and this is just such a dream — and well, I am just overwhelmed,” said Logan, who also admitted that she felt uneasy when the competition went into a spell-off, the first in nearly 100 years.
Despite her unease, however, Logan belted out word after word in the final 90 second speed round, and ended up the winner with 21 correct words, as opposed to Raju’s 15.
Logan’s win was not just a personal victory and a monumental achievement, but was also a victory for the Scripps organisation, which had to cancel the 2020 edition of the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although Scripps held the competition in 2021, it was held virtually, and saw Zaila Avant-garde become the first Black American to win the prestigious competition.
Hosted by actor LeVar Burton, 2022 marked the first in-person Spelling Bee competition since 2019, and the return of the competition also saw history made, with Logan and Raju heading into the first-ever spell-off in the competition’s 125-year history.