An Indian-American teen from New Jersey won this year’s South Asian Spelling Bee after numerous rounds of the competition that also helps kids hone their skills for future bees, including the National Spelling Bee.
Navneeth Murali, 13, of Edison, New Jersey, took home a cash prize of $3,000 as the national champion, when he correctly spelled the word “flipe” meaning, to strip off by or as if by peeling,” during the recent 2019 South Asian Spelling Bee finals held in Edison, N.J.
Hephzibah Sujoe, 13 of Fort Worth Texas along with Pranav Nandakumar, 13 of Austin Texas, and Vayun Krishna, 12 of Sunnyvale, California tied for National Runner-Up position, a press release from the organizers said.
The initiative was organized by the advertising firm, Touchdown Media Inc., a specialized South Asian advertising and promotions firm based in New Jersey.
Sony Entertainment Television Asia will broadcast the finals in more than 120 countries, the press release said.
Kawan Foods returned as the powered by sponsor for the initiative which is now in its 12th year.
“It fills my heart to see such talented young spellers from across the country who make us proud as a community. The initiative is unique in its reach and engagement and with the help of the SAS-Bee program, we were able to give even more spellers the opportunity to win it all and raise the bar even higher. My heartiest congratulations to the winner,” Rahul Walia, founder of the South Asian Spelling Bee is quoted saying in the press release.
The initiative was open to children up to 14 years of age and was held in 5 regional centers across the United States – New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Dallas, Texas; Bay Area in California, and Charlotte, North Carolina.
More than 600 spellers from these centers participated, of which 15 finalists took the stage at the Finals.
“We are extremely happy with Naveneeth’s win at the Bee as it goes to show that today’s South Asian kids are all well-rounded and highly dedicated to their craft,” said Tim Tan, managing director, Kawan Food, which manufactures the brand Kawan Paratha. “We produced a special section called “Meet the Spellers where the viewers will have an opportunity to get to know some of the spellers better,” Tan noted.
“It’s amazing to see the pool of talent from our community and am happy for Navneeth Murali’s win and excited to get to know him and some of the other spellers better in the “Meet the Speller” series airing shortly on Sony,” said Jaideep Janakiram, head of North America, Sony Entertainment Television-Asia.
Registration for 2020 will open in October this year.