Ananya Vinay: 2017 Scripps Spelling Bee Champion


Clovis Unified’s Ananya Vinay holds the championship trophy after winning the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Maryland on June 1, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Scripps National Spelling Bee)

When Ananya Vinay took the trip to Maryland for the Scripps National Spelling Bee last year the hopes were high, even as a first-year competitor. After a 172nd Place finish, the 2016 spelling bee did not end up nearly the way she wanted it to.

“I knew I could have done better and it was just a moment of panic when I missed that word,” Vinay said. “I wanted to improve my rank and do better and work harder so I decided to enter the bee again.”

Ananya chose to use that experience and her favorite word to provide her motivation going into this year’s event.

“My favorite word is ‘spizzerinctum’ [the ambition to succeed],” Vinay said. “That word always motivated me to study more because of it’s meaning.”

With a return trip to this year’s spelling bee, Vinay found herself in Round 36 and what would turn out to be the final round, with a chance of winning the title. After spelling words like “wayzgoose,” “tchefuncte,” “gesith” and “cecidomyia” to reach Round 36, Vinay found herself two words away from the title.

“I was just standing up there thinking, ‘I got this’ and that I could deal with the words I got,” Vinay said.

After correctly spelling “gifblaar” and the announcer telling her “if you spell this next word correctly we will declare you the 2017 Scripps Spelling Bee Champion,” Vinay nailed the word “marocain” to lock up the championship.

“For the past year she set her mind on working hard and just put in so much effort,” Vinay’s mother Anupama Poliyedath said. “Her main strategy was to study the online dictionary and all the different word origins and that was her biggest adjustment from last year – typing the words instead of reading them.”

Thanks to her hard work and dedication, Vinay not only gets to dawn the name, “2017 Scripps Spelling Bee Champion,” the future Clovis North Bronco has quite the collection to symbolize her accomplishment. For being crowned champion, Vinay received a $40,000 cash prize with an engraved trophy to go along with her new kindle, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond, and a complete reference library from Merriam-Webster.

Vinay also has received recognition from various national media outlets and even the state government. She kicked off a media tour with entertainment programs including “Good Morning America,” “Today Show,” “Live with Kelly and Ryan” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” She also got a chance to visit Wall Street to be a guest of the New York Stock Exchange to ring the opening bell.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson later honored her alongside his fellow Assembly members on the Assembly floor before Senator Tom Berryhill honored her in the Senate. Her favorite team, the Golden State Warriors, also invited her to witness Game 5 of the NBA Finals after Vinay gave the warriors a shout out when she won.

“My favorite part through all of this is I can just see how she is blooming into a confident person who can handle all the attention with ease and calm,” Poliyedath said. “I’m just happy she could get what she’s dreamed of.”