An Indian American teen from Edison, New Jersey, was victorious in the 2019 South Asian Spelling Bee, correctly spelling “flipe” to earn the national title and $3,000 grand prize.

By correctly spelling the word that means to strip off by or as if by peeling, Navneeth Murali bested Hephzibah Sujoe, 13, of Fort Worth, Texas; Pranav Nandakumar, 13, of Austin, Texas; and Vayun Krishna, 12, of Sunnyvale, California, who all tied for the runner-up position, the bee said in an Aug. 13 news release.

“It fills my heart to see such talented young spellers from across the country who make us proud as a community,” South Asian Spelling Bee founder Rahul Walia said in a statement.

“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,” Walia added.

The bee was open to children up to 14 years of age and was held in five regional centers across the United States, including New Jersey, the Washington, D.C. Metro area, Dallas, the San Francisco Bay Area and Charlotte.

Over 600 spellers from these centers participated from 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,” Tim Tan, managing director of Kawan Food, the event sponsor.

The initiative was organized by multicultural advertising firm Touchdown Media Inc. Sony Entertainment Television Asia will broadcast the event across the globe in over 120 countries.

“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 at Sony Entertainment Television-Asia.

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