If someone approached you on the street and asked you to spell “guetapens,” could you do it? If you’re San Diego eighth-grader Snigdha Nandipati, you could — that’s the word she correctly spelled on Thursday to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Nandipati and runners-up Stuti Mishra, 14, and Arvind Mahankali, 12, emerged victorious from the 278 nationwide contestants who started the contest on Wednesday in National Harbor, Maryland. The final rounds aired live on ESPN.

Before clinching the title with “guetapens,” a French word for ambush or trap, Nandipati correctly spelled “admittatur” (an admission certificate), “arrondissement” (a French urban district), and “saccharolytic” (the breakdown of sugars in metabolism).

The 14-year-old, who reads encyclopedias for fun, called her win “a miracle,” but since she studied about 40 hours a week, we’d say it’s more the product of hard work.

Aside from lifetime bragging rights, she nabbed a $30,000 cash prize (which she says she’ll “save for college”) plus a $2,500 US savings bond and a $5,000 scholarship.

Watch Nandipati’s winning moment below.


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