Scripps National Spelling Bee crowns champion after he confidently spells ‘psammophile’

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(OXON HILL, Md.) — Dev Shah hoisted the coveted Scripps Cup after correctly spelling the word psammophile — an organism that prefers or thrives in sandy areas — to win the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday.

“It felt good knowing that I accomplished something I worked hard for,” Shah told Good Morning America Friday morning in the wake of his monumental accomplishment.

The eighth grader from Largo, Florida, previously competed in 2019 and tied for 51st place and again in 2021 when he tied for 76th place.

When asked, “were you ever in doubt when you first heard the word?” Shah replied confidently and succinctly, “no.”

“When I heard the word, I was pretty sure I got it,” he continued.

The 14-year-old, who was full of quiet confidence during the bee, said that stems from “practice and a lot of it.”

Here’s how Shah broke down his training habits for the big event: “By myself, I would just go through individual lists and I would just analyze the patterns behind them. And then my dad would just make lists for me of words that I struggle with. And my coach, Scott Reamer would quiz me [on] stems and roots.”

When Shah isn’t practicing spelling, he said, “I play the cello, I play tennis [and] I like to read.”

While holding up the coveted Scripps Cup after the win, he said “it’s surreal” and added, “My legs are still shaking.”

Overall, Shah took out 228 competitors from around the country and took home a cash prize of $50,000.

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