National Spelling Bee champ clinches title with ‘marocain'

by: Bob D\'Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk Updated:

Rohan Rajeev, 14, from Edmond, Okla. (left), and Ananya Vinay, 12, from Fresno, Calif., right — applaud during the finals of the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee. Vinay won the title Thursday night.
Associated Press

OXON HILL, Md. - A sixth-grader from California became the first solo winner of the National Spelling Bee since 2013, as Ananya Vinay correctly spelled “marocain” to win Thursday night..

>> Read more trending news

Vinay, 12, became the first solo winner of the Bee since 2013, NPR reported. The winning word—marocain — is a heavy crepe fabric, its name derived from the French word for Moroccan.

"I just focused on my word and tried to spell it right," she said after spelling 35 words correctly, according to CNN. "It's a like a dream come true. I am so happy right now."

Vinay defeated 14-year-old Rohan Rajeev for the title in the 90th version of the contest. The two deadlocked for 20 rounds until Rohan, an eighth-grader, tripped on the word "marram" (the Norse-derived word for a type of grass).

Vinay won $40,000 in cash, a $2,500 savings bond and a large collection of reference books, NPR reported. Rohan, who was bidding to become the first winner from Oklahoma since 1965, won $30,000. 

To break the ties that had ended the previous three championship rounds, the bee added a written, 24-question test that all finalists had to take Thursday night. The results would have been used as a tiebreaker in the event that the finalists were able to make their way through the entire list of prepared words for the finals, NPR reported.