The fourth time was a charm for a Queens, N.Y. eighth-grader who won the top prize at the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday night.
Arvind Mahankali spelled out the word "K-N-A-I-D-E-L" — a tricky German-Yiddish word that means matzo dumpling — to win top honors after finishing in third place the past two years at the Super Bowl of spelling bee competitions.
The 13-year-old Mahankali — who had been eliminated by German words the past two years. "Schwannoma," meaning tumor of the nerve sheath, knocked him out in 2012, and "jugendstil," meaning artistic style, was his downfall in 2011.
This year, a word meaning a ball of boiled dough — and the $30,000 in cash and prizes that comes with it— will taste pretty sweet to Mahankali. He is the first boy to win the brain-teasing contest since 2008.
This year, the aspiring physicist managed to spell out obscure words like "eretic, "dehnstufe" and "chalumeau" during 16 rounds of the high pressure contest.
The triumphant teen said he was pulling an Elway and hanging up his dictionary for other pursuits — like getting ready to attend the prestigious Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan next year.
"It means I'm retiring on a good note," said the modest eighth-grader from Bayside's Middle School 74 in Queens. "Maybe I'll be excited tomorrow morning after I realize this has happened."
All I can say is thank the omniscient for spellcheck.