said Dev Shah, the 14-year-old Indian-American who won the prestigious 2023 Scripps National Spelling Championship on June 1, when asked what motivated him to enter the world of spelling.
In an interview with NDTV yesterday, the eighth grader said he expected to spell the winning 11-letter word “psammophile” correctly because it was a word he had already studied. Merriam-Webster knows zammophil fans as an organism that thrives in sandy areas.
Dave told NDTV: “I developed an interest (in Spelling Bee) from sixth grade because I really started winning and studying spelling.
Dave also said that his grandmother was an inspiration to him. “Yes, I am very close to my grandmother. She was an inspiration to me and I am so grateful to her. She played such an important role in every moment, from start to finish, every moment.”
Asked about the adrenaline rush of the Spelling Bee’s final lap and battle of wits with his competitor, Dave said: “Before my winning word, there was a commercial break and that was the most nerve-wracking experience. To the nerves of the competition… But Charlotte (Walsh), the runner-up, had a conversation about what would happen next and that was most comforting to me.
Dave said his 2023 Scripps Spelling Bee win still stands.
When asked about his ambitions and what he wants to do in the future, the 14-year-old said he has a variety of interests. “I want to be a neurosurgeon and I also want to be an engineer. These are very exciting career choices.”
Asked about his relationship with India, Dev said he had visited India “once or twice, seven years ago”. Dave is the 27th Indian-American to win the American Spelling Run.